What I’m Reading | Keola Beamer

Q&A with Christine Thomas
January 2007

–What are you reading?

I have some interesting tastes in reading. I’ve always been a reader, have always enjoyed reading my whole adult life. I’m really fascinated by the deep undercurrent of Hawai`i’s past and how some of these ancient ideas relate to contemporary living and contemporary science. I’m particularly interested in what we Hawaiians call mana, life force. The Chinese, who have been practicing internal arts for thousands of years, call this Qi.

Because a lot of ancient information about mana has been lost, it’s a difficult subject to explore. However, modern science has done some interesting things lately to try and understand what this is and how it can be quantified.

I’m reading a really fascinating book now called “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe” by Lynne MacTaggart. It’s a readable scientific detective story that offers a picture of an inter-connected universe and a new scientific theory that makes sense of this kind of phenomenon. It’s really interesting reading. I’ve also started “The Biology Of Belief: Unleashing The Power Of Consciousness, Matter And Miracles” by James Lipton. This is kind of a summary of new biology and information concerned with this subtle force.

–How did you discover these books?

I guess in my exploration of the web, and some friends also recommended them. For Hawaiians, we believe there is a level of existence that sometimes we term the ‘aumakua level of existence. This is a higher level of existence where we believe that inspiration comes from, from our relatives and ancient ancestors.

–Do these touch on that?

In a sense these things are all interconnected. I look at the way I look at the universe and my own life. As we all age sometimes we get a little enclosed in our beliefs, and I’m really trying to resist that and go forward with an open heart. I’m trying to stay open to these really interesting and fascinating possibilities in my life.

I’m always interested in artists and how they think—how inspiration works. In my own work I try to set aside my own story and connect to this ‘aumakua level. You ask writers in Hawai`i, “How did you write this song?” and they will inevitably say, “It came through me.” If our lives are so full with our own egos, we miss some of these stories. So we have to quiet our own ego and our own story.

–So if we’re always trying to ‘do’, we’re not connecting?

My students ask how do you get your inspiration? But there’s no recipe. I can’t tel people how. A lot of my work comes from love, out of aloha for a place, love for a person, love for something in our life that connects us.

–Do these interests reflect your longtime focus, through music, on continuity and innovation?

We have to honor our past and those that came before and remember the contributions of, in my case, so many wonderful musicians. At the same token, we are not museum pieces; we grow and breathe and change. There’s an interesting dichotomy as native Hawaiians. We have one foot in the past and one moving into the future. The art of living is somehow combining those two influences and somehow creating a human life with meaning.

–Then these books help you along that path?

Yeah, I think so. It validates some of my own suspicions. And what I really like is it really helps to open the imagination. I love that feeling of reading opening new worlds of thought and creative discussion.