Drowning, Watching or Surfing the Wave of Life

One of the lessons behind the Huna principle of Ike is that our thinking and beliefs shape our perception of reality.  Similarly, our attitude to our inner world and our outer world shapes our experience.

Adopting the Huna Adventurer approach to thinking and living and working with the seven Huna principles can provide a way of living which is joyous, connected, authentic and empowering.  I have personally found this approach to living to have many wonderful benefits.

In this article I will attempt to articulate some of the features of the Huna Adventurer approach to thinking and living and compare it with some other typical approaches. To honour the Hawaiian roots of Huna, and to indulge my own love of the sea, I will use the analogy of the ocean and surfing (I will even include some stick men drawings for your delight!).  These are of course my own interpretations and involve some generalisations. I hope it provides some useful distinctions that you might consider.

Out of the water, I am nothing.

Duke Kahanamoku


One approach to life might be considered drowning. At the very least one is certainly plunged deeply into the water and struggling.  There is no sign of a surfboard or any way of traversing the ocean.

Here there is the notion that ‘life is happening to me’. It’s as though external events are always in control and there is nothing that can be done to influence things. The person here is a true ‘victim of circumstance’.

Thoughts are fused with reality and ‘thinking is out of my control’.

There is a perception of lack of access to tools and resources or the means to change the situation.

There is a sense of overwhelm and constraint. Every day is a process of helplessly drowning in life….


Another approach to life might be considered watching.  One chooses, as far as possible, to stay on the shore and avoid the waves. At best the person here may leave the shore and take a flight to their destination travelling above the ocean whilst never fully experiencing the waves.

Traversing the wave directly involves risk and may be painful and so is best avoided at all costs.

We are more than our thoughts. People can detach from the thoughts that cause suffering. There are tools and techniques to help do this.

There is a sense of dissociation and avoidance of feelings both those that are painful and pleasurable.

Life goes on, but to what extent can it be considered to be fully engaged and connected ‘living’?


The Huna approach involves surfing the wave of life. The wave is comprised of the forces of (chaos, movement and masculine energy) and (order, stillness and feminine energy).

Life is an adventure to be embraced.  As with all adventures there is uncertainty and there are inevitable highs and lows. If we fall off the board we can learn, get back up and wait for the next wave to come.  If it is useful, we might choose to surf the wave in another way.

We can influence or thoughts and reality and harmonise ourselves, our environment and circumstances. There are many tools and resources (both inner and outer) to help us do this.

We are always free to choose how we approach, and react to, circumstances.

We are fully connected to life and the sensations of life – both painful and pleasurable. Feeling into both enables us to grow and learn.

We savour the beauty and joy of life in the present moment. Living is ‘all in’.

Embracing the Adventure of Huna

If you decide to approach the ocean and surf the wave there are many adventurers to be had.  You may not always know when the next wave is coming but you will be prepared to go with it and fully embrace the adventure that life can be.  And who knows, if you do it enough you might just become a kahuna no’eau he’e nalu (expert ‘wave rider’) of life.

N.B. The characters portrayed in these images are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), is intended or should be inferred despite the remarkable resemblance to the author!

Pete Dalton ©2023

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