Kahana Valley, Oahu, HawaiiIn Hawaiian Philosophy of Life Part 1 I covered a little bit about the Hawaiian philosophy of Huna. The teachings of Huna came to western minds via the research and investigation of Max Freedom Long who learned them from William Tufts Brigham, a man that had spent forty years living in Hawaii studying the secret Huna philosophy. Mr. Brigham found quickly that it wasn’t so easy to study Hawaiian secrets.

Asking the few Kahunas (Hawaiian spiritual guides or sorcerers) that existed in Hawaii about the Huna was not met with any success. The Kahuna would not speak with him about it. Afterall, Huna means, “secret”. It wouldn’t be Huna anymore if they told him! The Huna were passed on from generation to generation of Kahunas (Hawaiian priests) by mouth and were never written down. However, there were many pieces found in chants, prayers and songs that the researchers were able to find.

Eventually Mr. Brigham re-translated the chants and prayers that he was able to find in ancient documents, basing his translation on the root Hawaiian words. This new translation opened the doors to Huna’s true meanings.

The core idea of Huna philosophy is similar to what Freud revealed about our inner psychology and yet the Hawaiian ideas were quite a bit more meta-physical The Huna taught that we as humans are comprised of 3 selves, or 3 minds. An easy English translation of these would be to name them: subconscious; conscious; and the superconscious minds.

The subconscious mind is called the “Unihipili” or low self.


  • Thought to be like a child. It needs to be loved, and it needs to be treated firmly and in a disciplined manner
  • This part of mind brings the unconscious material to the awareness of the conscious mind so that the conscious mind may weigh it, and judge for or against it’s importance to the issue(s) at hand.
  • The low self is the repository of all memory including those regarding emotions and feelings. This is similar to the reasoning that an animal may possess. Base-level memories and emotions.
  • The term “low” refers to the place in consciousness it resides and is not meant as a reference to where it lies in the heirarchy of the importance of the selves.
  • The low self’s center rests in the solar plexus, and not in the head.

The Kahunas referred to the conscious mind as “Uhane”, or middle self.


  • Conscious of itself and existence in reality as the individual knows it.
  • Ability to reason with logic.
  • Has free will, along with the “low self” to create as it wishes.
  • The middle self is like the parent of the low self
  • Resides in the head.

The third self or mind is the high self, called the “Aumakua” by the Hawaiian Kahuna.


  • The high self appears to be comparable to Freud’s super-ego in that it knows the rules that were learned over time and is like the parent in that it looks at all the selves or minds and takes into consideration all the information before acting or making decisions.
  • This higher self lives at a higher plane of consciousness that is said to exist outside of the limitations of the physical body.
  • It will not intervene in the day to day life of the individual unless asked to do so.
  • Not interfering until being asked appears to be a cosmic law that the high self must follow.
  • This mind or self expresses all the divine qualities like compassion, patience, love, forgiveness
  • Considered to be a combined community of spirits
  • Considered to be a perfect blending of masculine and feminine, an androgynous self.
  • Considered to have individual identity and be a blending of all other high selves at the same time. Interconnected consciousness.

The Aumakua is rather fascinating when examined at some depth. It is the self that directs non-physical matters like dreams and intuitions through using the subconscious self or low self. Hawaiian Kahunas tell us that it is the high self that forms your life by influencing your thoughts, hopes, desires, wants, needs, and fears in the layers of the middle and low selves.

The Aumakua is believed to have the capability to foresee the future. As one’s thoughts change in the low and middle selves from one day to the next, so to does the future of the person change. Huna teaches that the low and middle self communicate with the high self during the sleep process. Getting enough rest is a good idea. The Kahuna believe that during sleep the thoughts that you had during the day, the ideas, the feelings, the experiences that you had are all reviewed at night time as you sleep and are somehow manifested to become your future through some unexplained, magical way.

To help us live an optimal life each of the 3 selves plays a vital role in our physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Another belief, (2nd) in the Hawaiian philosophy of our selves or minds is the belief that there is a vital force, or an energy force within the body. This energy can be said to have 3 levels. The lowest level corresponds with the low self, the Unihipili. When the energy is there it is a certain level. When the energy or force moves to the middle self, Uhane, it is believed to be raised to a higher level. Likewise, when the energy is located in the area of the high self, Aumakua, it is said to be at it’s most powerful level. This basic energy flow changes constantly as the needs of the body and mind change.

Thirdly there is the matter of matter. Huna tells us that the 3 selves each have a “shadow body”. These are bodies that exist beyond the physical plane, and yet are very real. These shadow bodies exist not only for each of the selves, but for absolutely everything that exists in the material world as we know it: rocks, trees, fish, and boar. These shadow bodies are like exact duplicates of everything. They are like copies of the physical thing in energy form. They bind all physical things together through their energy bonds.

The shadow body of the low self is believed to be an energy formed replica of every tissue and system in our physical bodies. The low self’s shadow body, if we could see it, would look just like our physical body. Kahunas teach that all memory is stored in this shadow body of the lower self, including emotions and feelings. Huna teaches that all memory is stored in this shadow body of the low self. The shadow bodies for the low self and middle selves are said to penetrate the physical body and reside there.

The high self, Aumakua has a shadow body also. It does not reside within the body at all but is said to be connected to the Unihipili by means of a silver cord, an energy cord.

For the 3 selves to communicate – to work with each other in a dynamic fashion they must be connected by some method. Kahunas tell us that there is a sticky and elastic energy substance they term, “aka” that does this. Aka is a perfect conductor of the energy needed for the 3 selves to communicate with each other.

The lower self is said to be able to morph into the shape of a connective thread between the middle and high selves.

When one uses the threads often and has a continuous interaction between the low, middle and high selves these threads are said to develop into thicker cords. eloped these aka threads into aka cords. Thoughts, ideas, emotions in the form of energy travel along these threads and cords seamlessly between the layers.

In your daily life every time you are interacting with others in the world you are sending out – and they are sending out, aka threads that connect you. These long sticky threads enable communication, and if reinforced with a lot of contact and communication the threads can also become thick cords. I imagine husband and wife have quite an aka cord between them!

Communication between people that are not physically together in close proximity is possible according to Huna and is explained by saying that the communication is enabled by these long aka cords or threads.

So, up to this point we understand that shadow bodies exist for all the 3 selves and for every physical thing in the universe. But, there’s more. Every thought in your mind has it’s own shadow body around it! Each thought that forms is connected with threads between the thoughts that came prior to that thought and after it.

Did you ever notice how your thoughts are connected along the same line? I used to do a psychology experiment on my own and ask people to write down a word and then the next word that comes to mind. I know you’ve heard of something like this, but this is more like a chain. It’s not that I give you one word and you write down a word and I give you another word. I give you one word and you write the whole list – triggering each successive word from the one before.

It’s interesting. Invariably you come back full-circle. Try it. Start with the word love and write the next word… for me it would be “family”. Then, look at family and write the next word that comes to mind… Follow this word link process by writing them all down with a dash between them – like an aka thread holding them all together. You can almost imagine the aka holding these words together in a chain. If you watch your thoughts you can see the same thing. When I meditate I see how one thought is linked to the one that came before it. They can be linked in the smallest way, but still it’s enough to generate the next thought… cool to watch.

So, how can you use the wisdom of the ancient Hawaiians and their Huna beliefs to help you in everyday life? For me it helps by giving me a different way to picture things that I can’t see. I know there are parts of the mind – or areas of the mind that are different. I know that! I can’t see them – so it’s nice to see alternative explanations than just the western ones that have been presented to me growing up in middle America.

The idea about each thing, thought, and part of our minds having shadow selves is interesting because, again, when I’ve meditated I’ve felt this energy force that seems to pervade the entire universe. I’ve felt that it’s all interconnected and not separate entities. It’s as if “I” am not separate from it either – I am part of the same life-force, or energy force I guess would be more appropriate since rocks don’t have life – but they are included in the feeling about the energy that pervades everything.


Peter Kay
Stay tuned for the last in this 3 part series… Hawaiian Philosophy of Life: Reality >

Did You Ever Consider Moving to Hawaii to Live?

All images © Apornpradab Buasi.