Ever hear of Hoʻoponopono? It’s a traditional Hawaiian healing method of forgiveness and reconciliation, usually performed by a healer or kahuna in a group, family or tribal setting. In the fascinating book “Zero Limits,” Joe Vitale describes a modern variation of Hoʻoponopono that has been pioneered by psychologist Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. According to Dr. Len, the objective of Hoʻoponopono is to achieve “the state of Zero, where we would have zero limits. No memories. No identity. “Dr. Len calls this state “Self-I-Dentity”.
Dr. Len teaches a simple but radical mantra that helps a person wash clean or eliminate the countless personal memories stored in the subconscious that block us from experiencing divine inspiration coming from the Higher Self.
But before repeating the mantra, there is a radical inner leap one has to make regarding personal responsibility. Dr. Len says that we need to take 100% responsibility for being the source of everything that comes into our field of awareness. In other words, whatever happens to us is coming out of our subconscious memory bank even though it appears to be originating from “out there”.
Every sensation, every object, every scenario we witness or are personally involved in is our own creation. We don’t blame ourselves in any way for this or try to run around being a fixer of other people’s problems as a result of accepting this premise; rather we just simply and objectively accept 100% responsibility. This may sound easy to do but it can get tricky when we experience ourselves being unfairly treated or victimized. When someone cuts you off on the freeway, it can be pretty difficult in the moment to calmly accept 100% responsibility for that event.
So starting from the inner position of taking 100% responsibility for one’s life experiences, the Hoʻoponopono mantra is a 4-step process. You simply repeat inwardly, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” Let’s take a look at each step.
“I’m sorry.” By apologizing for what is happening, especially for the difficult interactions with people that come into your life, you are saying “The buck stops here. I’m creating this.” Who are you saying “I’m sorry” to? Ultimately, to the Divine within.
“Please forgive me.” This is radical. We usually hear a lot about forgiveness these days. Forgive your parents. Forgive your abuser. What Dr. Len is teaching is Advanced Forgiveness. When you forgive someone, you are still holding onto the conviction that you were wronged. Somebody did something painful to you and now you are releasing them and yourself by forgiving them. When practicing Hoʻoponopono, you remain inwardly on your knees, always asking for forgiveness not giving it. From whom? Same as before: from the Divine within.“I love you.”
The famous three words. How many times have we wished we had said it more often? In this context, we are simply striving to connect to the primal feeling of love in our hearts as a simple prayer of affirmation. Again we direct the words to the Divine within, to all of life, to humanity as a whole, or, if we are able, to the person with whom we are having difficulties.
“Thank you.” In the final step, you feel and express appreciation and gratitude, both of which are spontaneous prayers of the heart.
Something special seems to happen inwardly and outwardly when this mantra sequence is followed with sincerity. There is reconciliation with the Divine through apologizing and asking for forgiveness, and then a reunion in love and awe. Amazingly, doing this often leads to a positive change in the situations we find ourselves in—other people change without our directly asking them to.
When I do the Hoʻoponopono mantra, I expand a little bit on the 4 steps. If I think someone is treating me unfairly, I will say, “Please forgive me for any time I have acted in a similar (dishonest, disrespectful, careless, hurtful, etc.) way in this life or in previous lives (if you believe in reincarnation). I’m sorry for having acted that way (even though I don’t remember doing so) and causing pain to others.”
Hoʻoponopono is not saying that one should never defend or protect oneself in more direct ways if necessary. Sometimes doing the mantra frees up the people involved to let go and move on, rather than remaining in an unfulfilling or abusive relationship, for instance.
In my experience, the Hoʻoponopono mantra can transform difficult situations even if I am only marginally involved. Recently, I was walking down a crowded street in north Goa. Across the street I came upon an ugly altercation taking place between what appeared to be a hired car driver and his passengers. The driver was furious for some reason, getting louder and louder.
He was a big man and seemed threatening. The three passengers were arguing their point but not as furiously as the driver.
They did not see me. In the moment I decided to start doing the Hoʻoponopono mantra. First I inwardly took responsibility for the altercation. Since it had come into my awareness, I accepted that it was coming out of my subconscious. “Please forgive me for any time in this life or in past lives for losing my temper and becoming hostile and threatening when I felt cheated. Also please forgive me for any times I may have cheated anyone….I’m sorry….I love you, I love you…thank you.” I repeated the mantra 3-4 times in less than a minute.
Here’s what I observed take place across the street: the raging car driver immediately calmed down as if the light bulb of reason suddenly flashed on inside him. He and the passengers started talking calmly. They must have come to an agreement because they all got back into the car and drove off like nothing had happened. Did my doing the Hoʻoponopono mantra transform the situation? Who can say for sure. But that is the third time I have done this while witnessing an ugly street altercation and each time the same thing happened—there was a sudden peaceful shift/resolution of the conflict between the parties involved. It seemed miraculous how fast and dramatic the shift was.
Dr. Len would say that by clearing errors in my own subconscious related to the issue at hand makes it possible for others to do the same, even outside their conscious awareness. I recommend that you put the Hoʻoponopono mantra to the test—don’t take Dr. Len’s or my word for its power. The next time you are personally involved in or witness an altercation, try saying it and see what happens. Mahalo