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A spirit of kindness

Updated: Aug 8, 2020

Bula Vinaka!

As a grateful person, I have often found myself in a position of wondering how to express my gratitude. How do I express that which I totally appreciate - the time and effort which has been provided by this person who has exceeded any kind of expectation? ‘Thank you’ often to me does not sound like enough gratitude. Even if I have received a service I pay for, I strongly feel that the person providing the service has a choice to provide crap service, good service or great service. If they chose to give me great service, then I am truly grateful for that and wish to express the entire-ness of my gratitude.

Our recent trip to Fiji obviously provided opportunity for reflection, time to contemplate the navel and remember gratitude. The Fijian people stole my heart, they have a very loving energy. Even those who are wanting to sell something, amongst their exaggerated truths and dodgy information, you can see that in reality they exist in a loving community environment. After all, their desperateness to gain a fraction of my money is their personal ability to feed their family. It’s evident enough in the shanty villages that the average wage is not in any respect at a high level.

What strongly affected me is the infectious energy. When a Fijian smiles, their whole face smiles. But even when their face does not smile, their eyes always do. In so many of the Fijian people, I could see such love and gratitude in their eyes.

When I asked how to say ‘thank you’ in Fijian, I was told ‘Vinaka’. What I noticed though is that ‘Vinaka’ was much more than a thank you. We would be greeted with “Bula Vinaka” or often told “Thank you, Vinaka”. What I began to understand is that Vinaka extends beyond a thank you and becomes also a blessing. Over a kava ceremony – which in itself is a blessing – I asked a local to elaborate on the word Vinaka. He indeed confirmed that Vinaka is a blessing. “Bula Vinaka = Hello, bless you (have a good day)” or “Thank you, Vinaka = Thank you, bless you (have a good day)”. How touching I find this simple vocalisation. It is a blessing given so freely and often that it makes my heart sing!

Perhaps I am being a naive tourist. Perhaps these blessings are manifested and trained into the service workers amongst tourism – I truly think not. And even if it were possible, I choose to remember the smiles in the eyes of these unique people, the love for life that exhumes from them. I believe our own community could benefit from learning such gratitude.

In my learnings, ’Kia ora’ itself is not just a greeting, but also a blessing. This is not knowledge/learnings that most of us have grown up with. Our national language is extremely beautiful, and I find that the more I learn about it, the more I feel it is a language of love (for want of a word to describe the wholeness of divinity).

‘Aroha nui’ as most of us know, means big love. When I say ‘aroha nui’ my intention is to express the way I honour you and your contribution to my world.

Namaste is known as a yogic greeting. In a nutshell, Namaste is a blessing honouring the greatness and equality in all. “The creator in me acknowledges the creator in you.”

If I could start a trend right now, it would be a simple blessing of gratitude to each person who crosses our paths as we continue through our day. But then again, perhaps intention is all that is required?

Aroha nui x

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