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Aloha, Compassion and Peace by Ryuko (Norma Kaweloku) Wong Roshi


Tanouye Roshi was determined to literally spread lessons of the Aloha Spirit—the genuine stuff beyond the tourist greeting. He believed a deeper understanding and cultivation of aloha would allow us to have a more tangible sense of the Buddhist principle of compassion. The more I practice, the more I appreciate this approach unique to Chozen-ji… the explicit embodiment of aloha as an embodiment of wise compassion… and the connection of aloha to Omori Roshi’s desire that Chozen-ji be a dojo that trains for peace. 

Peace isn’t merely the absence of conflict. It isn’t enough to just wish that everyone get along with each other. Peace—Tanouye Roshi used to say—peace needs to be waged. This directive is even more important in fractious times.  

A deep practice of aloha requires self-reflection and mutual relationship. We need to be kind to ourselves in order to be kind to others and to accept kindness. We need to understand and live in ways that cultivate the mutuality of our existence, to know that true thriving can’t happen in isolation. Aloha is a collective thing and its energy is usefully infectious. Aloha resides in a healthy spirit, and is humble and proud at the same moment. 

On Wednesday’s class at the dojo, we end with this simple chant: 

E aloha mai 

E aloha no

E aloha e

Beckon aloha, call it in 

The real aloha, nothing else 

Aloha from everywhere, to everywhere 

Practice aloha and wage peace. Gassho! And much aloha.


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