Indigenous Medicine Mindset

“Health is a matter of wisdom,” says Kupuna Hale, one of my Hawaiian elder teachers in years past, “not scientific knowledge.”  She further expressed to me that what I was learning in the “scientific” school of thought (pre-med and Chiropractic) was considered child’s science as compared to the wisdom of our ancestors.

The scientific medical view of disease is that disease is centered in the body.  The Indigenous Polynesian’s view of a so-called disease or illness is an imbalance of the soul, a disconnection of meaning, of purpose, of essence.  The task of the Kahuna Lapa’au (in this case, a master in Hawaiian medicine) is to heal the soul from its disconnection, to aid in bringing the soul back to the One.  Our modern society is riddled with lost and disconnected souls.

The Kahuna Lapa’au recognizes each soul as sacred and always connected to Kumukahi (One Source).  They viewed life (living) as a spiritual practice, not a dogmatic religion or other mind controlling system.  Bringing health back into balance was a spiritual practice.  Therefore, based on the mindset of the ancient Indigenous medicine Kahuna, disease is caused by the disconnection of the soul in one form or another.  Living an empty life, which is living without meaning or with meaning that is too trivial or too materialistic for the needs of a sacred soul.

I feel the western culture has purposefully persuaded us to shut our eyes to see the truth.  It feels as if we have abandoned the feminine principle.  We have lost sight of whom we truly are, sacred beings living on sacred ground connected to Kumukahi.

The feminine way is one of understanding the world, a way of finding solutions that affect the whole, and a way of taking action for the highest good for all.  To have a sacred experience requires a balance of our feminine capacity.  It’s valuing the individual: the intuitive, the character of the person.  It allows us to dive deeper down the rabbit-hole (not just focusing on the surface of things).  Don’t get me wrong; I am not about getting rid of the masculine principle especially when it pertains to healing.  I am for reclaiming wholeness, and integrity

Below is a Hawaiian chant of empowerment that I have modified to include all people.

E iho ana ‘o luna            –            What is above is eventually brought down

E pi’i ana ‘o lalo            –            What is below is lifted up

E hui ana ka honua            –            The world is united

Ikaika ko kakou ‘uhane –            Our Spirit remains strong

Imua ka lahui na po’e

     kanaka a pau loa            –            Let us all move forward together (as one wind)

The imbalance in the western medical system is the over emphasis on a masculine principal approach that permeates our entire culture. This essentially belittles all of those that are brave enough to ask questions.  It lessens the integrity and soul connection of the people that operate within that system and it diminishes the self-confidence of the people who seek out that system for their health care needs.  When you enter a typical doctors office, there is an immediate sense of disconnect, a sense of diminished self-power.  Granted, some of this is self-induced, but much of it is the sterile environment of the office.  There is literature littered throughout the waiting room and pharmaceutical advertising reminding us of our individual limitations to bring health back into balance.  It feels more like a business than a relationship to heal a sacred soul.  “How will you be paying for this?”  “Do you have insurance to pay for today’s visit?”  When you eventually see a doctor, rarely is there any physical contact (except from the nurse perhaps) and lucky you if you happen to get an eye contact!  When you leave the doctors office, you may feel even less capable, even though you have been given the correct diagnosis and treatment protocols.  When you experience a strong masculine principle style, you feel their strength, their dominance.  Even if you are helped, you end up feeling lesser of a sacred person.

When someone interacts with you from the feminine side of themselves, you feel empowered, you feel your own unique self, the full capacity of your possibilities.  Every medical Kahuna understood this balance and the importance of establishing a relationship with their patients including the connection with the treatment protocol or medicinal prescription.  Imagine if the western medical system was like this as well as provide the right diagnosis and treatment protocol.

We no longer need a disease-centered medical system.  We need a form of health care that embraces the interdependence of all living things.  What we need is an indigenous medicine mindset approach based on relationships that are pono (aligned, balanced, whole).

My father always reminded me about how the little words, not the big ones, that can make a difference in a just relationship between two people.  Complex and foreign words unfamiliar to the general community can cause a separation between people, just like the medical profession has done.  The medical field has conveniently developed a communication system that encourages separation from themselves and the rest of the world.  Their scientific language makes others feel less than competent and perhaps in the doctor’s mind, superior to the layperson? There is absolutely no reason why the medical profession couldn’t use a language that everyone could understand.  The medical profession has created a masculine principle of what some call a “practice of professional isolation.”  Maybe we should start the healing process by first healing the professional isolation?  We definitely need to change medicine as a culture of competition, independence and separation.  The masculine system can prescribe and possibly cure (a legal term only they can use), but the feminine principle heals the soul.

Mahalo. Maka’ala


About Maka'ala

Maka'ala is a Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian ancestry) trained in Hawaiian medicine practices since the age of six. He is the founder of Indigenous Botanicals and Mana Lomi®. He enjoys traveling around the world teaching Hawaiian principles and concepts of being well. In 2005 he was awarded the "Kaonohi Award" for excellence in Hawaiian medicine and community support. He is the author of "Na'auao Ola Hawaii - Hawaiian Principles of Being Well." Maka'ala is the Ambassador-at-large and Minister of Health for the Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi. His focus is "breaking the blueprint" from disease and illness and his mission is "bringing the healer back into the family."
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2 Responses to Indigenous Medicine Mindset

  1. Mahalo, Maka’ala, for sharing your wisdom once again and particularly for sharing this oli in the way that you do. It is a vital part of my everyday life. E piko kakou!

  2. Siovhan Hutcherson says:

    Just read this article after reading another by Maka’ala. Very interesting and I believe true. I’m a Massage Therapist, and the power of healing touch is the foundation of what I do. I’m particularly drawn to those who have been wounded, and I always feel my compassion and desire to bring healing and comfort comes from my woman’s heart, and especially, my maternal love. I had never really thought about it as in the terms of the Feminine Priciple in any greater terms besides the fact that I happen to be both a woman and a mother. But this article resonates with me! That you for shining a light on something I have been experiencing without consciously recognizing before!

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