stories make the difference

My workmates (and I) have a regular daily ritual involving answering the 10 trivia questions in the DominionPost. The DomPost? It’s a newspaper. If you didn’t know that you’re in those slightly scary foreign parts…

One of the questions required, as an answer, the Maori word: mauri. It’s a word that can be translated as – the life principle, emotion, spirit – maybe the essential essence – the vibe.

I was a bit confused because I thought the word was: wairua. It’s a word that can be translated as the spirit, or as having a spiritual quality.

I talked to my Maori colleagues about what they thought was the difference – or not – between the words. I knew that most everything has mauri, but what’s the story about the wairua? Can that only be applied to animate objects? I can really feel the energy – the mauri – from a waterfall, but does that also bear wairua?

My colleagues weren’t 100% sure what the difference is between mauri and wairua. In my mind – and let’s face it, my Maori language knowledge is iti at best. I think that mauri – the vibe – can be in any object or item, alive, animate, or not. But I don’t think that necessarily makes it spiritual. A superb knife can have a vibe, but it’s a long way from being spiritual. I think the difference is in the story.

The story. A bible isn’t spiritual unless you can read it. It’s a book, at best. If you don’t know what a book is, it’s not even a book. It’s the story that makes – confers – the wairua. An alley cat definitely has mauri, I think it’d only have wairua if the cat somehow has a story.

So, what’s your story?

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