If it’s true, as Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners believe, that it is possible to know the mood of the ocean, then I think it’s a fair bet on Monday the waters surrounding Hawaii Nei were quite happy.

In an extraordinary ceremony at Kualoa Beach Park in Windward Oahu, the 14th Dalai Lama blessed and consecrated the double-hull wayfaring canoe Hokulea.

A long, white Tibetan scarf was tied to one of the canoe’s masts, creating, it seemed, a physical “pillar of peace.”

It symbolized the embrace of the Dalai Lama’s message of oneness by the crew of the Hokulea and the indigenous people they represent, but also the carrying forth of Hawaii’s aloha to the world.

The Hokulea will set out on a global voyage next year to “place a lei around the world,” as master navigator Nainoa Thompson put it.

After thanking the Dalai Lama, Thompson asked the invited audience, “What do we do on Tuesday? What do we do tomorrow?”

He meant, What will the people of Hawaii do after the Dalai Lama has left the islands?

The answer, he said, was to be “kind and caring to create a better world” — a fitting end to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s very first Pillars of Peace program.

The Meaning of Aloha

The Dalai Lama’s visit was focused on connecting him with Hawaii’s people, especially indigenous people. All told, it’s estimated he appeared before more than 20,000 people in just four days.

In key ways, though, the Hokulea blessing was the most Hawaiian of all the events of his visit.

For one thing, it was held outside on the shore of Kaneohe Bay on a gorgeous day, an ideal place to honor a culture so closely linked to nature.

The Kualoa area is also historically and cultural rich, a puuhonua (sanctuary) and a birthplace of chiefs. The guests included the families that live in the area.

The visit also accomplished a primary goal of the Pillars of Peace program: to have global leaders of peace learn what aloha is and share it with the world.

That seems likely. The Dalai Lama said several time that he never understood the full meaning of aloha until it was explained to him during this visit.

Finally, the visit planted the seeds of peace among Hawaii youth. That was quite evident, for example, from the warm reception students at Kailua High School gave the Dalai Lama during his visit to the school Monday.

To listen to teenagers use words like “compassion,” “understanding” and “tolerance” — and to appear to actually care about what the words mean — is the greatest indication that a short visit from a man of peace may have long-lasting and profound benefits for the people of Hawaii.

Aloha oe, Dalai Lama, aloha oe.

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