Ho’ Oponopono, (pronounced Ho -o-po-no-po-no) in its simplicity is a Hawaiian prayer of forgiveness and reconciliation with self and other. In its complexity, it is an ancient wisdom surrounding the depth of human and spiritual connection. In the spirit of beginning a new year, the difficult teachings of 2020 around our vast interconnectedness, and the need for healing a painful past (pre-dating 2020) sharing this beautiful practice seems appropriate.
During ancient times, the practice of Ho ‘Oponopono (which means to make right or amend) was facilitated by shamanic priests (Kahuna Lapa’au) in the islands that are now Hawaii. At its core is the recognition that problems experienced by one member of a society are rooted in the social structure and spiritual life of that society. Its purpose was to heal family or group discord which manifest as spiritual, social, or physical illness. This was achieved through ceremonial community prayer, which acknowledged that humanity is interconnected by involving all individuals connected to an identified problem or illness. This ancient practice recognized the generational transmission of pain and held the belief that one was unaware of the pain carried within. Further, at its root it was this generational pain (understood to have occurred in this and previous life experiences) which caused discord in self, other, and society.
To best understand the current practice and its application a brief history is provided. It is documented, that in 1976 Dr. Morrnah Nalamaka Simeona, a widely respected Kahuna Lapa’ua modernized the practice. Prior to her death in 1992 Dr. Simeona had spent many years in travel across the United States, Asia, and Europe sharing the method she founded known as “Self I-dentity”. Self I-dentity, is anchored in the foundational principles of Ho ‘Oponopono with the major shift being movement from shamanic oversight and ceremonial experience to a more simplistic practice one can engage in individually. It is important to note, while the practice appears simplistic it holds sacred meaning and is intricately connected to the spiritual essence of life.
In short synopsis, the modernized practice taught by Dr. Simeona, is described as a process of releasing spiritual and current pain through direct relationship with God (often referred to as the Divine). Contained within the application of Self I-identity through Ho ‘Oponopono is the journey of returning home. This is understood as a return to the original self (pure self) that is intricately connected to God and holds the wisdom of life through time.
The history of Dr. Simeona’s life and her life work are both fascinating and rich. It is written that her father was a member of the court belonging to the last known Queen of Hawaii (Queen Lilinokalini) prior to Hawaii’s annexation by United States in 1893. This is an important detail as this is Dr. Simeona’s tie to learning the ancient teachings of Hawaii. The teachings she would, in her adult life, translate, adapt for modern life, and share with the larger world.
Dr. Simenoa’s work was recognized by larger institutions as a healing practice and it is noted she was invited to lecture by The United Nations, The World Health Organization, and many universities during her lifetime. While the intricacies of the practice are many, one of the major premises (if not primary component) of the practice is the following prayer. The Hawaiian prayer for forgiveness and reconciliation.
“Divine Creator, father, mother, son as one…If I, my family, relatives, and ancestors have offended you, your family relatives, and ancestors in thoughts, words, deeds, and actions from the beginning of our creation to the present, we ask your forgiveness…Let this cleanse, purify, release, cut all the negative memories, blocks, energies and vibrations, and transmute these unwanted energies, to pure light. And, it is done.
It is believed, through consistent practice of this prayer and adopting the understanding of our intricate attachment to and responsibility to each other, life shifts and healing can occur. While this is the primary and deemed most powerful of Ho ‘Oponopono prayers. there are several other prayers that may be utilized for healing. For further reading regarding Dr. Simeona and additional healing prayers you may visit The Ho ‘Oponopono Miracle and review the section entitled Ho ‘Oponopono prayer. https://hooponoponomiracle.com
The prayer was further simplified into mantra form by Dr. Simeona’s once student and protégé Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. It is Dr. Hew Len’s shortened version of the foundational meaning of Dr. Simeona’s work and prayer that are most widely known today. The mantra is as follows. I Love you. I am Sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.
Dr. Hew Len furthered primary teachings of Ho ‘Oponopono ~Self I-dentity by expanding the understanding of its 3 foundational components Forgiveness, Repentance, and Transmutation. It is understood in this process of asking God (the Divine) for forgiveness (for current and generational participation in painful problems) and repenting (taking responsibility for what lives within us that affects others) that we return to our purest self (again, the self-most intricately connected to God or creation). Further in expressing love and gratitude for life, and asking forgiveness, change occurs, or problems find resolution.
Of note, at times it appears the term inner child is referred to as the internal pure self. This inner child is recognized as the wise self, the part of one that is connected to God and larger consciousness. In essence, the inner wisdom that guides informed action.
Dr. Hew Len’s story is interesting, as well. It is recorded that in his early career he, for a four-year period, worked as primary staff psychologist for The Hawaii State Hospital for the criminally insane. This is a fascinating and seemingly miraculous story of healing through the application of the shortened version of Ho ‘Oponopono.
This seemingly provable occurrence is documented in the book The Easiest Way to live, by Mabel Katz (2010) and in a book tilted Zero Limits that Dr Hew Len co-authored with Dr. Joe Vitale (2007).
In Short, Dr. Hew Len, who did not work directly with the incarcerated residents, prayed over their clinical charts utilizing Ho ‘Oponopono. Of interest, residents begin to receive release and moved forward in life. It is said the hospital was eventually un-needed and closed. Dr. Hew Len, as documented in the above works, noted that he prayed not for the residents but prayed for forgiveness for his perception of them. Noting, that the primary teaching is in taking responsibly for what lives in you. That which has taken root and is manifesting in self, other, and larger society.
Of further interest, in historical data around Dr. Simeona, it is recorded that in 1989, accompanied by a camera crew for documentation purposes, she went on pilgrimage to Poland. On her journey she visited and prayed over the historical discord impacting Germany and Poland relations. Her purpose was to aide in releasing the despair and the divisiveness that had resulted in the construction of Berlin Wall between West Berlin and East Germany. It is noted, and recorded in a interview from that time that she predicted political changes and healing. It is further noted that approximately four weeks after her pilgrimage the Berlin Wall fell. (Article in Resources)
Miraculous stories and claims indeed. Which (when you listen without judgement) is true of, all oral and written, stories held in major world religions. Religions believed to be anchored in ancient teachings and practiced through belief with faith.
At this point, it is important to make a note regarding the writings of Mabel Katz and Dr. Vitale. Mabel Katz, who was mentored by Dr. Hew Len, now dedicates her life to sharing the teachings of Ho ‘Oponopono. She is a Los Angeles based author and radio show host who, it appears, works primarily with the Latino community in supporting hope and healing through her platforms.
Dr. Vitale who, it appears, built relationship with Dr. Hew Len after seeking him out to further explore the seemingly impossible claims around his work at Hawaii State Hospital, writes and shares his teachings around Ho ‘Oponopono with the larger society. The relationship between Dr. Hew Len and Dr. Vitale grew into an apparent friendship and trust in other. This appears to have culminated into lecturing, teaching, and writing on the seeming miracles of Ho ‘Oponopono.
Mabel Katz work, for me, is experienced as a lovely and beautiful description of how she applied Ho ‘Oponopono teachings and prayer to her own life and her current sharing with her community and larger society.
Dr. Vitale’s written work was harder for me to read. It appears more linked to manifesting success or wealth seemingly linking the spiritual sacredness of the ancient Ho ‘Oponopono (and Dr Simeona’s work) primarily to material manifestation. In my research for this article, I happened upon a training in Ho ‘Oponopono by Dr. Vitale and Dr Hew Len. I took the training, which is now available on-line, and did learn quiet a lot. For instance, additional healing practices (known as cleaning tools) foundational principles, and practical application of Ho ‘Oponopono through simply repeating the four-phrase mantra. I will note that Dr. Vitale acknowledges that Dr. Hew Len is retired and no longer travels or lectures. In some ways subtly noting Dr. Hew Len is not part of Dr. Vitale’s current work. I mention this because since taking the training, I have been inundated by e-mails with what appear to be marketing tools for Ho ‘Oponopono. This is unappealing to me. In some ways it is an example of what often happens in a society where opportunistic and capitalistic behaviors reside.
When I ponder this further, I see that this behavior (which feels to me like opportunistic capitalism) is part of what the foundational work of Ho ‘Oponopono teaches. A society’s ills are there because there is a place for them. I want to be clear I am not judging (or not intending to judge) Dr. Vitale’s work. He has a right to market and make a living. There is a place in our society for him to do this. And, clearly, a place in me that participated. Afterall, even though I felt it was for my research and further understanding, I bought the (much reduced) on-line training. I am currently practicing Ho ‘Oponopono to cleanse this place in me that unwittingly or wittingly participates in societal capitalism. Note, some of what is contained in this article comes from that training along with reading various articles, the books mentioned above, and the many available You-Tube videos of Dr. Simeona, Dr. Hew Len, Mabel Katz and Dr. Vitale. There is clearly a lot of information available if one wants to learn. Resources will be added at the end of the article.
One of the primary teachings, as witnessed in each of the above resources, is that in taking responsibly for our part in the current problems experienced in self, other, or larger society we are shifting the collective approach (in both spiritual and physical form.) In taking responsibility for our perspective, judgement, fear, and/or pain we are doing our part to shift or (I would believe at a minimum) not grow the problem.
Certain concepts (in terms of understanding) draw correlation between traditional psychoanalytical terms and terms utilized to describe Ho ‘Oponopono. Terms such as collective consciousness and generational transmission of trauma, true-self and pure self/inner child. Further, the ideas around being responsible for self and being a responsible citizen for the greater good of humanity, prayer anchored in belief and faith, forgiveness, and humble thankfulness for one’s life and place in it are valuable and honorable.
In terms of practical application, one might engage the sacred prayer or mantra when worried about an upcoming situation, a perceived mistake, loved one, social issue or other problem. The teaching is to acknowledge the problem and apply the prayer to self by asking God for forgiveness for your witting or unwitting( current or historical) participation in the problem. Therefore, taking responsibility for your part and reconnecting with the pure part of yourself known as the inner child. The self intricately connected to God, or in need of returning home.
In utilizing the prayer one would say and further understand the following.
I love you (God)
I am sorry (for my witting or unwitting participation currently or generationally)
Please forgive me (for this participation, forgetting my inner home, and not understanding)
Thank you (for this life and for hearing me)
It is recommended one repeat the prayer (utilizing the shortened four phrase mantra) not only when a problem arises, but consistently in the internal background with intentionality. The longer version of the prayer can be utilized during longer prayer, as can any of the prayers referenced above.
On a side note, Ho ‘Oponopono is additionally appealing from a trauma and attachment informed perspective. Trauma and brain research support the current knowledge (in terms of the impact of trauma, recommended trauma treatments, and neurobiology) that repetition creates learning and strengthens neural networks. This in turn changes behavior. Further improved understanding around the intergenerational impact of trauma (the ways in which we pass patterns of thought and behavior through generations by repetition) and the extraordinary amount of time spent in treatment supporting individuals in finding their true self (the self they were born with before relational and societal learning) adds credence to utilization of repetition in creating a change in experience.
All of this said, there are many reasons (those anchored in psychology and social learning, neurobiology and faith-based practices) that lend credibility to the practice of Ho ‘Oponopono. A practice of responsibility for self and humanity.
When I think of 2020 there are many issues that demonstrate our interconnectedness and our participation in the social problems that harm us, our fellow citizens, and larger society. We are still in a worldwide pandemic (a whole civilization with many cultures impacted) and still some members refuse to take steps to protect self and other. We have witnessed, in ways we cannot unsee, the ongoing existence of racism and its unwitting counterpart -white privilege. Further~ poverty, classism, ageism, and sexism are all alive well (at least here in the U.S). It seems, whether we acknowledge it or not, we all play a part through tolerance and sometimes not understanding or looking for further understanding.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that prayer alone (though I believe strongly is its power -whether it be the historical Hawaiian wisdom of Ho ‘Oponopono or prayer found in other societal teachings and belief systems) is the sole answer in changing our immediate reality. I am suggesting that Ho ‘Oponopono is a practice steeped in ancient wisdom that honors the core of struggle in the year 2020 and brings wisdom and hope (within its ancient teachings) for the new year 2021.
Our interconnectedness is genuine in many ways. Taking responsibility for self in creating greater peace and good seems (as could be the mantra of 2020) a small sacrifice to pay for our fellow citizens.
Shared with you in deepest care and wishes for a safe and healthy 2021.
Note: This is a longer than intended post. And, while this is true it is not long enough to capture the genuine depth and breadth of the foundational Ho ‘Oponopono practice. For further interest additional resources are provided at the end of this post.
As always, potential resources for individual supports are provided.
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National Hotlines: Treatment Referral Helpline: (1-877-726-4727)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-825
Amazing Women in History: Dr. Morrnah Nalamaku-Simeona https://amazingwomeninhistory.com/morrnah-nalamaku-simeona-hawaiian-healer/
Freedom From Within and Beyond. (Interview) https://www.self-i-dentity-through-hooponopono.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/freedom-within-worldwide-and-beyond-update-2018.pdf
Ho ‘Oponopono practitioner Certification course. https://buythiz.com/hooponopono-mastery-lp?trackingid=GHewLenHoponopono&gclid=Cj0KCQiA0MD_BRCTARIsADXoopZjcR1ThH0hpyStCUPPotlXgUz0lBboEEgeYzc33ZaxyVkm4G4OilYaAnu4EALw_wcB
Ho ‘Oponopono A Rare Interview with Dr. Simeona and Dr Hew Len. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwVfPARt2h8
Katz, Mabel. The Easiest Way to Live. Let Go of the past, live in the present, and change your life forever. Your Business Press. Copyright 2010 Mabel Katz
Katz, Mabel. You Tube Presentation. The United Nations https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLevJRhPhPpPlrc6lflk8Xyt3aMPjq-T_0&v=exbugdY2k-k&feature=emb_logo
Katz, Mabel. Understanding Ho oponopono. You Tube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs6Fpb1DlMw-fisgV42njXw
Simeona, Morrnah. You Tube. Ho ‘Oponopono Prayer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_Nn8b2Aa7Q
Simeona, Morrnah. You Tube. Ho ‘Oponopono Prayer for Healing- Expansion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSaX1RpMaxo
The Ho ‘Oponopono Miracle. https://hooponoponomiracle
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RODRmw85B4MVitale, Joe. You-Tube presentation regarding Dr. Hew Len’s experience at Hawaiian State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Vitale, Joe. Zero Limits. The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace, and More. John Wiley and Sons Inc. Copyright Hypnotic Marketing and Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len.