Manulani Aluli Meyer, Ed.D.
Summary of a talk given at: Western Museums Association Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii: September 23-26, 2011
Truth is the highest goal, and aloha is the greatest truth.
It is early morning. Candles are on and quiet music tip-toes in pre-dawn solitude. Here is a space meant for thought. Here is a time I would like to share with you. You who have come to my beloved homeland for this meeting of museum practitioners. You who have also come to renew friendships and explore blue ocean waters. You who are open to the influence of ideas put forth by those from cultures and contexts unlike and not unlike your own. Mahalo for the effort to come here, for your open mind, and for the passion of your own work. Mahalo for it all. Ke welina mai nei – Welcome to Hawai’i.
Today’s talk with each other was shaped around five ideas. Five always helps me organize thoughts because for some Hawaiians it is the mystical number of healing. It is connected to our five fingers and this basic relationship we have to how one receives and dispenses medicine. Five is also my birth number in my ohana. I am the fifth daughter of Emma Aluli and Harry Meyer. Five also infers roundness, the spherical concept that has been my carving meditation for many years. Here are five ideas for world transformation discussed at our hui in Honolulu:
1. Knowledge is holographic
2. All nouns are verbs
3. Always describe the higher
4. Truth is recognized
5. No time for nostalgia
Idea #1: Knowledge is holographic
I am an epistemologist, someone who explores ideas of knowledge, knowing and understanding. This vocation was thrust upon me because of the needs of our time. I believe these kinds of jobs are often dispensed to unlikely candidates because it has been said those outside the field will be needed to change the field, whatever field it is. Well, my background is athletics but my field is indigenous epistemology. If you think about it the segue makes sense because a kind of dogged self-discipline helped bring this first idea forward: knowledge is holographic. It grew from the questions: What is knowledge? Is there a difference between knowledge and knowing? How do we know we know? What is true intelligence? Finding the difference is what we did together, in dyads, and within our collective minds. Shall we begin again with the basic idea of a hologram and then continue into its efficacy as the metaphor of choice for the future of world scholarship?
A hologram is a three-dimensional photograph made with the aid of a laser. To make a hologram, the object to be photographed is first bathed in the light of a laser beam. Then a second laser beam is bounced off the reflected light of the first and the resulting interference pattern (the area where the two laser beams commingle) is captured on film. When the film is developed, it looks like a meaningless swirl of light and dark lines. But as soon as the developed film is illuminated by another laser beam, a three-dimensional image of the original object appears. The three-dimensionality of such images is not the only remarkable characteristic of holograms. If a hologram of a rose is cut in half and then illuminated by a laser, each half will still be found to contain the entire image of the rose. Indeed, even if the halves are divided again, each snippet of film will always be found to contain a smaller but intact version of the original image. Unlike normal photographs, every part of a hologram contains all the information possessed by the whole.
Isn’t that amazing? The whole is contained in each part. Take your time here as it has been something Native Science practitioners have been putting forth for many life-times. Here is Indigenous common sense that has more to do with contextual referencing and interconnection than with static curriculum separated from function, place and purpose. And what are the three laser beams that make up this holographic image? Body, Mind, and Spirit of course! 
Context is within. Content is external. Roxanne Kala, Native Hawaiian
Laser beam #1: Here is one laser beam in the hologram we know how to operate. It is the beam we are most familiar with and the projection we can recognize, even if it only makes the understanding two dimensional. The physical/body aspect of holographic epistemology is the foundation of Science, of classical Physics, of positivism and all its empirical measurements and verifications. The physical world is an outside phenomenon we experience through our senses.
Fundamental objectivity is also the basic ground for an Indigenous knowing because experience, over time/space, cannot occur without awareness of that which is physical, external, and the interacting agent grossly encountered outside oneself: tangible, dense, weighable. The physical aspect of holographic epistemology is a knowing that comes from direct experience because it has been encountered, registered and remembered in bone and muscle. It is also knowledge gained by the full spa treatment of a Scientific regime: time, weight, mass, velocity, etc. The physical world is a world that can be predicted, controlled, shot into space. In our song Ekolu Mea Nui, it was manaoio, knowledge that became knowing because ideas were embedded within our flesh, our own personal experience. Here is one part of the wholeness of true intelligence – we must ultimately express it. The days of ego-centered verbosity are over. We are now heading into the conscious doing and the recognition that observable knowledge practices must return to education and our world.
Sensations originate in the body but it is the mind that experiences them. We say emotions come from the heart but it is the mind that is aware of them. Francesca Freemantel
Laser beam #2: The mind category of our hologram is the relative truth of what is not seen yet available via thought, idea, and reflection: manaolana. The mind beam in our knowledge hologram is about insideness, about the richness and infinity of difference found in our own humanity. Mind illuminates experience and brings forth meta-conscious awareness and purpose to detail meaning and interconnection. It is the maturing agency of collective and individual thinking. Without paper and pencil, without clock, without competitive comparisons – a thinking that inspires what Maori call aromatawai or reflection that instructs and transforms. Paulo Freire called this revolutionary process of waking up conscientization, while Teilhard de Chardin called it convergence, this miraculous and vital transformation of society via reflection, thinking and the using of our minds.
How one develops mind was the focus and practice within my talk in Hawai’i. Do you see it separate from body? Do you see mind as a hindrance to technical rationality? How one sees mind is perhaps the turning-point of self-reflective subjective awakening. Remember, mind is one part of the trilogy necessary for our hologram to be fully operational. It is no less valuable, no more valuable than any of the other beams. It is what Indigenous scholarship brings forward as an idea/practice embedded ultimately within spirituality. We develop awareness through the mind/body of our own selves: here is where the simultaneous immersion into quantum realities changes everything. Mind/body/spirit. From the genesis of space it has been this way. Don’t you think it’s time to understand it?
At this point, the rational, conceptual aspect of the mind must let go, allowing
a breakthrough into direct, intuitive experience. Francesca Fremantle
Laser beam #3: It is time/space to speak of the spiritual dimension of life. Do not curl away in anti-religious dismay or leap into dogmatic exaltation. This discussion of spirituality is not a religious idea, we just think it is. Shake that belief off and clear your mind. Wairua/wailua is as real as the tangible and mindful realms. It has been proven, stitched, sung and experienced that we are more than our bodies, more than our minds. Matter is not separate from spirit. Here is the culminating idea of this holographic epistemology and the animating third beam that Indigenous scholarship confirms.
It is the laser that popped images into three-dimensional holograms surprising the world with its implicate wholeness, even as pieces splintered on scientific floors across the planet and we all discovered the whole of life is found in all parts. That is as much a physical and mental idea as it is a miracle of the quantum world. For many Native peoples, this is basic common sense. Here is a collection of the hologram via the Big Three trilogy of Body/Mind/Spirit.
Table 1 is a list collected over years of joyful readings, discussions and surprise insights from our self-organizing universe. Take a peak on the next page. We had a good discussion of these ideas at the conference. Do you see the function and liberation of such a list? Take your time. Breathe slowly. It is really quite simple. Look again – can you see it? We will evolve if all three facets are utilized, and as Aboriginal scholar Veronica Arbon reminds us, Ways of Doing is in the spiritual category. That one idea changes all others.
Table 1: Holographic Epistemology – Native Common Sense
|Seeing||Hominisation||Convergence||Teilhard de Chardin|
|Technical Rationality||Hermeneutic Rationality||Emancipatory Rationality||Henry Giroux|
|Consumer Intelligence||Re-Creative Intelligence||Creative Intelligence||Molefi Asante|
|Knowing||Knowledge/Information||Understanding||Manu Aluli Meyer|
|Ways of Knowing||Ways of Being||Ways of Doing||Veronica Arbon|
|Interpretation||Mythic Maturation||Gnostic Revival||Taupouri Tangaro|
|Measurement||Reflection||Witnessing||Manu Aluli Meyer|
|Ike (to see)||Ike (knowledge)||Ike (revelations)||Native Hawaiian|
Idea #2: All nouns are verbs
Isn’t that a simple idea? Blackfoot elder Leroy Little Bear confirmed it, along with most quantum researchers. It infers the life in relationality, not simply relationship. It reminds us that schools have made curriculum a noun when it has always been a verb. It paints for us the image of interconnecting, touching, extensive life that moves, circulates, grows. It is the deeper truth of quanta and what actually does make up matter. Because if all nouns are verbs, then what makes them that way? Our thinking/our actions. It has taken me 20+ years to understand this one idea from Shakespeare: By my actions, teach my mind.
Here is the whole focus of this welcoming talk for your conference. It is our thinking that changes everything, but it is our actions where they are expressed. Why not see the holographic idea and be inspired to think through your own quality of consciousness – and then to respond appropriately? Why not see our connection through difference? It is the Hawaiian understanding found in auamo kuleana: collective production through individual excellence. Why again do we not actively deconstruct our hidden assumptions of society that holds us hostage to uniformity, money and shallow forms of relating?
Many synonyms exist to describe how verbs, quanta, and thus life interact with each other creating this dynamic field of interdependence, especially through difference: The Implicate Order; Self-Organizing Systems; Auamo Kuleana; Coherence; Non-seperability; Fundamental character of reality; De-pendent Co-arising; Akashic Field; Paticca Samuppada; Systems Theory; Interdependence; Mutual Causality; Quantum Epistemology; Complimentarity; The Divine Milieu; Entanglement; Makawalu; Milestone of human thought; Whakapapa; Indra’s Net; The Blanket; Undivided Wholeness. Isn’t this an amazing collection of synonyms?
The idea that all nouns are verbs puts us back in the saddle of cause/effect with a more active role. We are the causative agent to the whole of life, and the whole of life is in our agency. I love that idea. Why not be inspired by this amazing time we have all found ourselves in? Then our nouns can be altered by our verbness, our doing, the actual practice of intentionality in our day. I hope you had dinner with a new friend and developed a memory with a colleague. Yes, why not take home some spirit and blue sky breezes from these islands of Aloha?
Idea #3: Always describe the higher
This idea came from the mind of elder-scholar Maori Marsden of Aotearoa New Zealand. It has put me on the path of positive and negative polarity without the burden of judgment. Quite amazing, really. To be a woman of my word has become: Am I woman of my intention? To always describe the higher means just that: to always think, express and describe what is higher to the thought, expression and situation. Friends and siblings started collecting lists of what they may look like. Then we practiced doing it, and here is the joy of discipline and a playground for cosmic athletes. The following is just a preliminary list of what we’re talking about:
Doesn’t the higher idea seem like the Spirit beam of the hologram? Don’t get lost in the moral quagmire that thinks one is better, one is worse than the other, please. It is simply the idea of stone becoming quartz, coal becoming diamonds; it will never happen if we don’t work through the friction that must occur for us to become what is inevitable. I know the list itself is unusual, but now is the time to push through places of discomfort and tension into the actual practice of an idea. Siddhartha Gautama was his name, Buddha was his awakened state. These descriptors are from the manaoio of my own life. They came in conversation, in waking awareness, in dreams, in contemplation and all through direct experience.
Learning not to judge but to discern is something I have actually just figured out how to do and I can assure you I am still a neonate. Perhaps there is a higher practice to discernment. Maybe it is simply acceptance. Yes, this practice is possibly helping us turn on the third laser beam so our lives can be holographically coherent and we can be the gems we have always been.
Idea #4: Truth is recognized
David Hawkins helped me understand that truth is recognized in all his writings. I love this practice. And then it was everywhere: in childhood, in sports, in my own mind, in our collective mind. Since the practice of this idea, I have learned that there are two different types of truth: relative and absolute. Relative truth is specific to the person and distinct in how it gets expressed; Absolute truth appears to be universal and is not something one accesses through the logical mind.
What I have come across in America is that most people actually confuse universality with uniformity. These are two polar ideas that are not synonyms. Relative truth means that when you are sitting in a meeting and someone expresses the exact opposite idea from yours and announces that it is the one true reality, you can now rest assured – it isn’t. It’s just one version of it. That is relative truth and it is the founding base of Hermeneutics. I am now learning to appreciate tension polemic experiences offer because difference is what turns on the engine of life. We either notice it and use it as fuel for our own evolution, or we don’t…and we relish in the conflict. What is your practice?
I have learned that post-colonial is not first a physical place in Hawaii, it is a mental one. Truth is recognized is an idea/practice that helps me get to this place. We recognize it, we see it, and we know it in our bodies. This is why Hawaiian elder/mystic Hale Makua reminds us: Truth is the highest goal, and aloha is the greatest truth. I think he’s talking about absolute truth here; the kind of truth that cannot be accessed via ordinary thinking but rather through compassion and aloha. We do think that aloha is our true intelligence here in the Islands, despite the colonized systems we now struggle in: thus this focus, this topic and my own path of self-discipline. I hope you were able to experience our truth found in loving while you were within our shores.
Idea #5: No time for nostalgia
Aloha is the intelligence with which we meet life.
Olana Kaipo Ai
I know, a bit severe but we truly have no time for nostalgia. I learned this from enlightened friends who, having learned of a thwarted project we were working on simply shrugged and moved forward laughing with their “2,000 year plan” idea. I loved that. It made it clear, and thus remaining steady became the work, the vision, the doorway of intentionality.
The world needs our wakefulness and our spiritual acumen. We must simply get along better with others, ourselves, and with this world. We must forgive ourselves when we do things poorly and get on with it. We must forgive others when they too do things poorly, and get on with it. But what are we getting on with? Business as usual? Something clearly must change, is changing.
As you came to the land of Aloha, I feel joyfully responsible to remind us that here is a path we can all traverse together with the other four ideas that all seem to boil down to some kind of enduring and basic intelligence. Let us just get on with it. It is actually the point of true intelligence and found in the energetic waves extending from our actions, thoughts and intentions. I like that. We are now playing in cosmic energy waves and you have just come from the place where surfing was introduced to the world.
Cognitive accumulation of information does not hold a candle to this kind of intelligence because loving creates the purpose and meaning of our lives. Does it inspire your own? How do we develop exhibitions from this absolute truth so difficult to express in relative terms? This is not some kind of mushy soft idea. It is the standing-up clarity of my own people and our collective life aspiration here in occupied Hawaii, despite it all. It has become the positive polarity of my own scholarship – it has become knowledge and thus it is not longer just theory. Now, let it become understanding.
If knowledge is power then understanding is liberation.
Napua McShane and Manulani Aluli Meyer
We are living in mythic times and the seeing of it has now become crucial. No, the world is not going to end in 2012, but it will shift. Why not make this shift consciously with a holographic maturity that has come down from the ages. Why not become cosmic energy surfers on this beach of aloha?
Haina mai ka puana: Thus ends my story
Well, that was fun! Mahalo for allowing this chance to offer you five ideas for world transformation. It has been my own work within my own world. Here they are again:
1. Knowledge is holographic
2. All nouns are verbs
3. Always describe the higher
4. Truth is recognized
5. No time for nostalgia
Mahalo to Noelle Kahanu of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu for the quality of her vision for our people and for this kind invitation to return home. I trust you had a chance to see our vibrant new Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum. It is a statement and experience that one must not miss. Our Hawaiian Nation heals one idea at a time. One place at a time. One person at a time. One practice at a time.
Here are my five practices. They are my own healing.
Amama ua noa.
 Michael Talbot (1991). The Holographic Universe. New York: Harper Collins Publishing.
 The following discussion of Body, Mind and Spirit is partially from a chapter submitted for a Global Archaeology text and electronic encyclopaedia that will be coming out in 2012.
 L.M.S. (2008). Near Death Experience (NDE) summary and lesson discussion with L.M.S. of Pepeekeo, Hawaii after drowning accident and immersion in coma at Hilo hospital.
 Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos (1999). The Non-Local Universe: The New Physics and Matters of the Mind. New York: Oxford University Press.
 The Big Three is how world scholar-philosopher Ken Wilber referred to Body, Mind, and Spirit. The idea is the foundation to his epic work: Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution (2000). Boston: Shambhala.
 All ideas within Table 1 have been collected over a life-time of readings, discussions and insights. They are referenced only through their authors because that was the epistemological priority of my scholarship