NOTE: This is a corrected and expanded version of my original article. A friend from Poland who knows the Bible better than I do helped me to be more accurate about my blessing references.
We put a great deal of emphasis on blessings in our Huna work. The "Aloha Spirit" booklet is all about blessings, as an example, and we begin and end all our meetings and classes and workshops with a blessing of some kind. Ancient Hawaiians blessed their homes, their tools, their canoes, and each other abundantly, and modern Hawaiians and residents of Hawaii still bless homes, offices, hotels and other buildings.
A dictionary definition of blessing is "to will good; to bestow favor and benefits; to praise." Even though blessings can be in the form of material gifts and helpful behavior, our tendency most of the time is to think of blessings in terms of words.
Behind all of this is a belief in two things: the power of words, and the power of good intentions. The power of words is that of helping us to concentrate our intentions. The power of the good intentions themselves has a more esoteric basis. It is essentially an expectation that someone or something will hear and respond to our declaration or our action, whether it's because they've heard it with their physical ears or seen it written with their physical eyes, or because it was telepathically received and acted upon consciously or subconsciously.
A blessing is not the same as a prayer, although a prayer may contain a blessing. Prayers are usually requests (the root of "to pray" means "to ask"), but they can actually take many forms. The famous "Lord's Prayer" of the New Testament (Matthew 6:9-13) uses the following formula, which starts out with praise, then tells God what to do, and ends with praise.:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Although most people think of this as asking God for something, this is due to a very modern assumption that when you want something from God you have to ask, as if God might or might not grant your wish. This is not how ancient people prayed, because they knew the importance of confident expectation. Instead, they gave appropriate praise to God, or whatever gods they worshipped, and then laid out in clear, confident terms exactly what they expected God to do. The Book of Psalms is full of this kind of prayer, and one good example is the famous 23rd Psalm.
Blessing is found all over the world in one form or another. In doing a little research I came up with these tidbits of information from the Bible which you may find interesting. These quotes are from the King James version. The first two blessings mentioned in the Bible: 1. Genesis 1:3 - And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 2. Genesis 1:4: And God saw the light, that it was good. The first example of teaching man to bless: Numbers 6:22-26 - And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying "Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying "On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious to thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."
The first request for a blessing (as a material gift) and the first granting of a blessing between people: Judges 1:15 - And she (Achsah, Caleb's daughter) said unto him, Give me a blessing...give me springs of water. And Caleb gave her the...springs.
The first blessing of God by man (Noah): Genesis 9:26 - And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem. However, an alternate translation is, Blessed by the Lord my God be Shem, which would change it to the first blessing given to one man by another on behalf of God. And then the first blessing of God by man (Melchizedek) would be from Genesis 14:20 - Blessed be the most high God.
The first indication of one person blessing another with words: Genesis 14:19 - And he (Melchizedek) blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God.
Insincere blessings: Psalms 62:4 - They bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly.
First blessing of the New Testament (Sermon on the Mount): Matthew 5:3 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The use of a blessing to change reality: Matthew 14:19-21 - And he took the five loaves and the two fishes and looking up to heaven he blessed and brake and gave the loaves to his disciples and the disciples to the multitude....and there remained twelve baskets full...and those that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
The last line of the Bible is a blessing: Rev 22:21 - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
And from Paul we have this good advice related to blessing: Philippians 4:8 - Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are good, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.
In Hawaiian the word for "to bless" is ho'omaika'i or ho'opomaika'i. Both have meanings of goodness or good experiences and they are pretty much interchangeable, except that pomaika'i (with a macron over the o) carries more of the sense of a state of good fortune or well-being rather than just something good. And so I finish by giving you this typical blessing in Hawaiian: E pili mau na pomaika'i me 'oe; "May you always have good fortune" or, simply, "Best wishes." Oh, yes, one more: Aloha.
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