KANEOHE, Oahu - The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said Monday he didn't know until his latest trip to Hawaii what exactly the word "aloha" meant.
"The world aloha is very simple but the real meaning is quite vast. You need a lot of effort to implement the real meaning of aloha," he told reporters after blessing the Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokulea, which is being prepared for an around-the-world trip.
Aloha is not just a word for hello and goodbye in Hawaiian, but it also means love, compassion, mercy, kindness and charity among other concepts.
Pillars of Peace Hawaii?photo
Calvin Hoe, a leader in the renaissance of Hawaiian music, hula and the arts and a representative of the Hakipuu district where the ceremony was held, chanted to welcome the Dalai Lama to Kualoa Park.
"Your blood is our blood. Your bones are our bones. Our stories are intertwined," Hoe said in English after a Hawaiian language chant.
The Dalai Lama told the media the words were "wonderful."
"Because I fully committed, we must promote the concept of oneness of humanity. That's very important. Once we develop genuine concept - oneness of humanity - then these (military) forces - no use. No relevance. That we should pray and we should work."
He earlier was asked how those opposed to the heavily military presence in Hawaii should express themselves. He responded that the U.S. military, governed by a democracy, was better than a military controlled by a one-party autocratic state.
"The military is not controlled by a political party," he said. "There are some drawbacks in America," he said while smiling mischievously at Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle sitting at his side, "but it is a democratic country."
He met students at Kailua High School earlier Monday, his last day of public events in the islands.
Over the weekend, he spoke to students about tolerance and perseverance and talked to the public about the role of peace and compassion. He also participated in a panel discussion with Native Hawaiian leaders.
It's the Dalai Lama's fourth visit to the islands and his first since 2008, when he went to Maui.