Healing in Hawaii – Culture in Addiction Recovery: The Philosophy of the Canoe


Whenever our haumana (student) comes into
our program, the first story that they hear from me is about the voyage of canoe of our
ancestors. It’s an imaginary canoe that lives in our
minds and in our souls. And every morning they wake up and I wake
up and board my ancient Hawaiian canoe. I am merely a passenger. I am not the steersman and I am not the captain. I surrender when I get on board this canoe
because my ancestors are the captains and the steersman. They know what course to take. They have been through life –they have gone
through good times and bad times; good roads and bad roads. So they are the guides who take that canoe
on that voyage. I am merely a passenger. We are all just passengers on the voyage of
canoe. Wherever this canoe takes me and who I meet
on this canoe is strictly up to my ancestors. So this morning when I got up, I got on my
canoe, I started my voyage, I came here, and I met you. So it’s important – the canoe knows who
you have to meet, where you have to go, and when you have to be there. There are no coincidences in life. So what we tell these kids when they come
into the program is that they have to surrender to our ancestors because they are beginning
part of healing in our culture. Not the western way. But even if you are not Hawaiian you can still
get onboard your canoe because we all have ancestors. Whether they are German, Hawaiian, Japanese,
Chinese, Portuguese, whichever – we have ancestors. Let our ancestors be our guides. Every morning when you get up, get onboard
your canoe. And believe me, it will take you to the most
unbelievable places. It will help you through all the stress and
the hard times you may have in your life. It will take you beyond that – to good places. That’s the philosophy of canoe.

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