Understanding Ho'oponopono - the Ancient Hawaiian Art of Forgiveness

Understanding Ho’oponopono – the Ancient Hawaiian Art of Forgiveness

Understanding Ho'oponopono - the Ancient Hawaiian Art of ForgivenessHo'oponopono came on my radar around 2008. It was time for another deep dive into self-healing and I sensed that forgiveness related to men and dating would play a significant role. Trouble was, I couldn’t quite figure out where the forgiveness fit in.

I had been divorced for about 10 years and had forgiven my ex-husband 8 or 9 years back - not because he “deserved” it, but because our children deserved parents who didn’t hate each other (or at least one who didn’t) and I deserved to be relieved of my burden of anger even if it felt righteous.

I was pretty proud of myself, so who else did I need to forgive and for what?

The quest for a deeper understanding of forgiveness and its role in my own personal healing had begun a year before with a seemingly unrelated 40 day personal meditation challenge . The focus on Deliberate Creation - living by choice, not be chance - eventually led to ho’oponopono via the book Zero Limits by Joe Vitale, personal development author and coach, and Haleaka Hew Len, PhD, Hawaiian psychologist and shamanic practitioner.

What Is Ho'oponopono?

The basis of ho'oponopono is a brief mantra - a repeated word, phrase, or sound that becomes an avenue into your own deeper state of beingness, helping transport you beyond your stuck thoughts and the superficiality of your daily rat race.

The word “mantra” gets thrown around a lot and seems to get confused with concepts such as “intention.”  However, the mantra isn’t the intention.  It’s the seed, the soil, the water, the nourishment that helps bring the intention to life.

In the Hawaiian tradition, ho'oponopono is a spiritual and mental clearing that happens through the cleansing of our own personal “errors of thought,” and is philosophically similar to the Buddhist practice for clearing Karma. Ho'oponopono requires that you take responsibility for whatever is going on in your life and not blame others, no matter how mad they have made you or how wrong you believe they are.

It’s a tall order for a very simple practice.

Ho'oponopono practitioners repeat the words “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.”

How Ho’oponopono Worked for Me

When I first began the practice, I got really hung up on the “correct” order for the mantra’s statements, though I’m not certain there is an official correct order.

Then I began questioning why I should be sorry and for what. Where and why did I need forgiveness?  I was still carrying guilt and shame – some real and most self-imposed – but wasn’t feeling the need to ask for forgiveness anywhere. Why was I saying “thank you” and for what? To whom was I saying “I love you” and did it mean anything if I didn’t know who it was for?

I “needed” it so be specific. My resistance was epic.

At that point, ho'oponopono felt more intellectual than spiritual, more tangled than freeing. It felt as if I were creating a new prison made of ritual. Ugh.

It also felt like a vital piece of my personal puzzle was lurking just beyond my mind games. I decided to quit dissecting the practice and keep chanting.

Things began to happen:

  • Simply chanting without agenda or critique led to a quieting of my mind similar to what happens in meditation. All that inner clanging and clanking gave way to a peacefulness.
  • In the quietude, my inner dissonance, disharmony, and general junk began surfacing.

As my stuff stepped out of the shadows and into plain view, a mighty truth was revealed.

The person who still needed forgiving was ME.

The downward-spiraling thoughts that followed went like this:

  • There must be something terribly wrong with me to have ended up married to someone like him.
  • Whatever was wrong with me was still wrong. The men I had dated since divorcing may have seemed better initially, but had too many qualities in common with the ex.
  • Lessons in life are repeated in their entirety until learned (think Groundhog Day), so I must not have learned anything at all.
  • (False) Conclusion - Clearly I didn’t deserve anything better.

This wasn’t good.

What ultimately became clear was that I had to turn ho'oponopono on myself. And so finally I did.

At the same time, I asked for any unfinished lessons to be clearly shown, little knowing what the Fates had in store. Their solution was to bring me face-to-face with The One Who Got Away, a childhood sweetheart who turned out to be my worst nightmare. (Wonder what the lesson was for him?)

So I chanted and cried and cussed and cowered and ran until there was no option other than courage – to face myself, my fears, my baggage.

I finally forgave myself – for “bad” choices, for assuming I wasn’t good enough, for tacitly agreeing I deserved such poor treatment.

Not only did I survive, I got bold and asked to be led to and through any other non-romantic relationships that needed healing. That wish also came true leading straight into another crucible, but this time I was ready and it felt healing from Day 1.

Better yet, clearing the old romance slate cleared the way for my Beloved, and he arrived on the scene a few months later. Even though I had waited a lifetime, it felt like it happened lickety-split.

The Power and Paradox of Ho’oponopono

As potent as ho’oponopono is for individuals, it also has a stealth power beyond the solitary practitioner. According to Dr. Hew Len, the heart of ho’oponopono lies in the belief that we are all One, part of a collective consciousness. That means the discordance we feel within ourselves also exists in others and vice versa. If all discord exists within the collective consciousness, then anything we heal within ourselves can radiate out and help heal anyone we come into contact with.

That means we have the power to cleanse and heal whether the problem originated in our own thoughts and experiences or not.

Pause for a moment and consider the ripple-effect implications of that statement.

The paradox is that we can change the situation around us and the people involved by going within, taking personal responsibility for our own junk (which we may perceive as coming from the junk of others), and making our own changes.  We will be different and so will they. It’s almost like doing their inner work for them by doing our own.

That’s powerful stuff.

For those who are skeptical of anything that seems too woo-woo, it’s also pure science. If you want a different response, give a different stimulus.

By doing your own inner work, you’ll “force” others to respond to you in a different way which “forces” them to make changes within themselves. Though you have zero control over the choices they make and may not like their new choices any better than their old ones, you have 100% control over your own, including the choice to turn around, walk away, and never look back.

Ho’oponopono for Life

Before ho’oponopono, I felt emotionally and spiritually drained. I felt like the world was crashing in and I couldn’t do anything right. I felt like my choices were always going to be bad and that this must be punishment for some past karma I’d forgotten. I felt assaulted by Life.

The shortcut to changing what’s going on within and around you, what’s happening for you and to you, is to forgive yourself. That’s the first step to falling in love with yourself, warts and all. It changes everything.

7 thoughts on “Understanding Ho’oponopono – the Ancient Hawaiian Art of Forgiveness”

  1. Hello,

    I would like to tell about ho’oponopono, Dr. Hew Len and about Morrnah Simeona.

    The Mantra “i love you, please forgive you, i’m sorry, thank you.” is not ho’oponopono and is not hawaiian. Dr. Hew Len never healed with a mantra “i love you, please forgive you, i’m sorry, thank you.” in Hawaii State Hospital. This Mantra was developed by Dr. Hew Len after Morrnah Simeonas death and its not ho’oponopono and not hawaiian. Likewise the story about “100% responsibility”, zero state, etc.

    Morrnah Simeona (1913 – 1992) was a native hawaiian kahuna. She updated the traditional Ho’oponopono to today’s times and realities and made it available to all interested around the world. Morrnah’s Ho’oponopono is a 14-step Ho’oponopono-process ho’oponopono (or 12 steps – it depends on how you count the steps. According to Michael Micklei, 14 steps if you count step 6a / b, 6c and 6d as 3 steps by older Versions of Morrnah’s Ho’oponopono process).

    Morrnah founded Pacifica Seminars Inc. in the 1970s and the “Foundation of I” 1980 to teach and spread her 14-step ho’oponopono around the world. In 1990, Morrnah and Yvette Mauri founded “Pacifica Seminars” in Germany (www.pacificaseminars.de). Pacifica Seminars in Germany is the only organization in Europe, where you can learn Morrnah’s original Ho’oponopono-process today, that was developed by Morrnah. The original 14-step ho’oponopono-process, this was developed by Morrnah, is the final version, that she compleded in 1991. Pacifica Seminars in Germany is headed today by Michael Micklei and his wife Yvette Mauri.

    Michael Micklei knows Dr. Hew Len already at the time, while Dr. Hew Len worked in the Hawaii state Hospital in the 1980s. He gave with Dr. Hew Len togehter ho’oponopono seminars (at that time Morrnah was still alive). In the seminars were told only about the 14-step ho’oponopono process of Morrnah Simeona. Never about a mantra or 100%responsibility or about a zero state.

    Michael Micklei wrote in a comment to an another person:

    Dr. Len never healed in the mentioned hospital by only saying over and over “I love you” and “Thank you” to the “I”, Morrnahs word for the Source, for Divinity. Instead he used Morrnahs 12 (or 14) step process only, twice or three times a day. Every day he walked through the hospital he looked carefully to the patients, the doctors, his feelings. He taped this. And asked Divinity to heal his karmic bondages with these persons and matters. A hard job for three years. Divinity accepted the plea and healed. 2 persons were not healed, as there were no karmic bondages with Dr. Len.

    Morrnah gave him this kind of order to do so (and at that time he worked really for the good to help Morrnah for her special spiritual job) and in classes, we both attended between Nov. 86 and later, Dr. Len was always telling in detail at the beginning that he was doing exactly this, nothing else. NO mantra was mentioned, never. At that time, Dr. Len was a student of Morrnah like me, so why and how could he use a quite different way in the hospital – and at the weekend in classes he said the opposite? Morrnah was also complex clairvoyant, she could see and hear everything.

    All so called tools of Dr. Len (except 2 or 3) were developped by Dr. Len after 1992, which are only temporarily harmonizing or calming down – NOT cleansing, NOT being any ho’oponopono, as they are not mutual. They are (powerful) magic tools. They are not bad in itsself, but they block people to learn authentic ho’oponoponos – traditional ones or the one of Morrnah. People like those easy magic ways, they really think to heal karmic stuff of hundreds and more reincarnations by 11 words.

    It is clearly the good part of Joe Vitale’s job to spread the name of ho’oponopono from the time of “Zero limits” across the world – but the illusion is inclusive: people know the name, but did not hear about the real content of ho’oponopono or even forget it. Pls keep in mind Dr. Len’s words (received by his divinity) in Zero Limits: “I’ve been told to kill the Divine to be home.” To kill the Divine? Well, starting to take him out from the cleansing. This does not seem a path up to the mountain.
    mahalo for sharing.”

    End of Quote

    link to the full comment: https://www.facebook.com/Pacifica-Seminars-611710282175050/

    Dr. Hew Len does not speak anymore about Morrnah’s 14-step Ho’oponopono today and about the healings of his patients in Hawaii State Hospital with Morrnah’s Ho’oponopono. He use the story of Hawaii State Hospital and the healing of his patients to substantiate his mantra. Morrnah’s 14-step Ho’oponopono goes into the background. It is even forgotten today by the people. Of all the other Ho’oponoponos, which are developed by Morrnah, is no longer spoken today. Here’s an article this topic:


    I really hope that Morrnah’s original Ho’oponopono-process regains fame among the people.
    I know Morrnah’s Ho’oponopono and would highly recommend it. So many things in my life have changed positively trough Morrnah’s Ho’oponopono.

    I can only say, steer clear of Dr. Hew Lens 4-phrase mantra and of Dr. Hew Lens cleaning tools!

    Michael Micklei wrote a report about Dr. Hew Len and the healings in Hawaii State Hospital that happend with Morrnah’s 14-step Ho’oponopono. Please let me share this link (is only in german language, please use Google tanslator to translate to your language):

    As far as I know, Morrnah has been working hard on her 14-step ho’oponopono process for many, many years (more then 19 years) for complete the final version of it in 1991. Prior to the final version, there were so-called “revised editions” of her 14-step ho’oponopono-process, which emerged in the 1970s and 1980s.
    Pacifica Seminars Germany teach and spread this final version of Morrnah’s Ho’oponopono in seminars and in a book. (and other ho’oponopono-processes, which are developed by Morrnah Simeona)

    Please share this information to another people 🙂

    Aloha and kind regards

    Patrice C.

    1. Why do I keep seeing this same comment everywhere I search about ho’oponopono? I want healing not history. Please?

    2. Patrice C, you Jeep commenting this about Ho’oponopono in every blog that writes about it. I think you need to check your intentions. Many teachers of the practice acknowledge that it has been grossly simplified for modern use. That is the point. We want as many people to know about the simple healing powers of the practice. Morrnah’s 12 steps was already a simplified version of the ancient practice. But it is still extremely complex and very few people will be drawn to something that is so difficult to understand. That is why Dr Len modified it even further. We live in desperate times, we need simple tools to fight the ever increasing harshness of this world. Maybe 11 words are too simple for you, but if it can help a generation of desperate people seeking for a way to calm the mind and to speak life instead of death, daily, I’m all for it. And so should you. Selah.

      1. I have learned about the ho’oponopono process only recently. It began with coming across Joe Vitale book ‘zero limits’ and as I continued to search about this practice wading through YouTube, Facebook, blogs and many websites. Reading about the comments made by others. I noticed positive comments about this process. Until I came across the comment by Patrice C. My bubble burst and I began researching the original work of Morrnah.
        I can’t find the original 12 or 14 step prayer anywhere. How can Morrnah’s original process regain fame if it is kept secret.
        As I continue in search of this prayer, I find Patrice C. continuing to denigrate the new adapted 4 step mantra which seems to be of value to many.
        I was delighted to hear your comments above. I also believe that Patrice’s comments are not written in the spirit of enlightenment and do not serve anyone.
        Thank you for writing it.

        1. Hi Elzbieta

          After a long research in the internet about ho’oponopono, I found the website of Pacifica Seminars. It have very interesting informations about Dr. Hew Len, about ho’oponopono and about Morrnah Simeona.
          Here are the links:


          and here:

          Be critical.
          Scrutinize the information you are aware of.
          Listen to your feelings.

          May the peace of the ‘I’ be with you.


    3. Alessio Kāneakua DiSalvaturi

      Aloha ‘oe!! I am 50% Kānaka Māoli/’Ōiwi from Mum’s side and 25% Tāngata Māori from my Dad’s side (native Hawai’ian and native New Zealander, resp.).
      I hope you do not mind if I could
      please share your comment on my Facebook. Like yourself, I am also disgusted at the deliberate cultural appropriation and rape of our heritage by greedy haole.

      Mahalonui loa ‘oe! Ke pule nei au iāʻoe “i ke Kumu” hoʻopōmaikaʻi iāʻoe!💙

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