Trevor Lewis

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Ho'oponopono – The Hawaiian Art of Forgiveness

By: Trevor Lewis
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Ho'oponopono – The Hawaiian Art of Forgiveness

  • Breakthrough old regrets.
  • Breakthrough emotional patterns triggered by the people and circumstances in your life that you sometimes wish weren’t.
  • Breakthrough using this deceptively simple and easy process for creating new opportunities.
  • Create the space for new strategies, new possibilities and divine inspiration.


Introduction and Background – About Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len

Sat Jul 22, 2006:  HO'OPONOPONO  By Joe Vitale

“Two years ago, I heard about a therapist in Hawaii who cured a complete ward of criminally insane patients–without ever seeing any of them. The psychologist would study an inmate's chart and then look within himself to see how he created that person's illness. As he improved himself, the patient improved.
“When I first heard this story, I thought it was an urban legend. How could anyone heal anyone else by healing himself? How could even the best self-improvement master cure the criminally insane? It didn't make any sense. It wasn't logical, so I dismissed the story.

“However, I heard it again a year later. I heard that the therapist had used a Hawaiian healing process called ho'oponopono. I had never heard of it, yet I couldn't let it leave my mind. If the story was at all true, I had to know more. I had always understood “total responsibility” to mean that I am responsible for what I think and do. Beyond that, it's out of my hands. I think that most people think of total responsibility that ay. We're responsible for what we do, not what anyone else does–but that's wrong.

“The Hawaiian therapist who healed those mentally ill people would teach me an advanced new perspective about total responsibility. His name is Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. We probably spent an hour talking on our first phone call. I asked him to tell me the complete story of his work as a therapist. He explained that he worked at Hawaii State Hospital for four years. That ward where they kept the criminally insane was dangerous.

Psychologists quit on a monthly basis. The staff called in sick a lot or simply quit. People would walk through that ward with their backs against the wall, afraid of being attacked by patients. It was not a pleasant place to live, work, or visit.

“Dr. Len told me that he never saw patients. He agreed to have an office and to review their files. While he looked at those files, he would work on himself. As he worked on himself, patients began to heal.

“'After a few months, patients that had to be shackled were being allowed to walk freely,' he told me. 'Others who had to be heavily medicated were getting off their medications. And those who had no chance of ever being released were being freed.' I was in awe. 'Not only that,' he went on, 'but the staff began to enjoy coming to work. Absenteeism and turnover disappeared. We ended up with more staff than we needed because patients were being released, and all the staff was showing up to work. Today, that ward is closed.'

“This is where I had to ask the million dollar question: 'What were you doing within yourself that caused those people to change?'
“'I was simply healing the part of me that created them,' he said. I didn't understand. Dr. Len explained that total responsibility for your life means that everything in your life - simply because it is in your life –is your responsibility. In a literal sense the entire world is your creation.

“Whew. This is tough to swallow. Being responsible for what I say or do is one thing. Being responsible for what everyone in my life says or does is quite another. Yet, the truth is this: if you take complete responsibility for your life, then everything you see, hear, taste, touch, or in any way experience is your responsibility because it is in your life. This means that terrorist activity, the president, the economy or anything you experience and don't like–is up for you to heal. They don't exist, in a manner of speaking, except as projections from inside you. The problem isn't with them, it's with you, and to change them, you have to change you.

“I know this is tough to grasp, let alone accept or actually live. Blame is far easier than total responsibility, but as I spoke with Dr. Len, I began to realize that healing for him and in ho'oponopono means loving yourself.
“If you want to improve your life, you have to heal your life. If you want to cure anyone, even a mentally ill criminal you do it by healing you.

“I asked Dr. Len how he went about healing himself. What was he doing, exactly, when he looked at those patients' files?

“'I just kept saying, 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you' over and over again,' he explained.

“That's it?

“That's it.

“Turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve yourself, and as you improve yourself, you improve your world.

“Let me give you a quick example of how this works: one day, someone sent me an email that upset me. In the past I would have handled it by working on my emotional hot buttons or by trying to reason with the person who sent the nasty message.

“This time, I decided to try Dr. Len's method. I kept silently saying, 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you,' I didn't say it to anyone in particular. I was simply evoking the spirit of love to heal within me what was creating the outer circumstance.

“Within an hour I got an e-mail from the same person. He apologized for his previous message. Keep in mind that I didn't take any outward action to get that apology. I didn't even write him back. Yet, by saying 'I love you,' I somehow healed within me what was creating him.

“I later attended a ho'oponopono workshop run by Dr. Len. He's now 70 years old, considered a grandfatherly shaman, and is somewhat reclusive.”



We are responsible for manifesting everything in our lives. That’s the bad news.  The good news is that because we are responsible for manifesting everything in our lives it’s easy to create change.  I am not responsible for the pain and suffering in your life until you share it with me.  At that moment I have manifested it in my life and I am responsible.  (Here’s an easy path – dump all your pain and suffering on the nearest enlightened master and let go.  It’s now all their responsibility and, as an enlightened master, they can deal with it!  Only two tricky steps, the first is finding the enlightened master and the second is truly, 100% letting go.).

And, it’s not necessary to accept this idea of being responsible for ho'oponopono to work.  


Trevor’s wording of ho'oponopono:

I’m sorry (for having created whatever it is that is disturbing me, you, the world) 

Please forgive me (for having created it)

Thank you (for forgiving me)

I love you (I love you, me, God for being in my world… love is good!)

There are various alternative forms including the shortest form which is simply “I love you”.  Find what works for you.


What has it done for me?

Created a whole new space for creativity.  Created a space where I am about to increase my income tenfold.  Improved my relationships with my family.  Before I started using ho'oponopono I couldn’t have envisaged being able to cope my mother emigrating from England to live near me.  Particularly, it has improved my own self-acceptance.

Dr. Len talks about ho'oponopono as a cleansing technique.  It cleans the system.  For me it has become an anchor … feel some discomfort, some agitation … immediately practice ho'oponopono … feel better.


Ho'oponopono and others:

Forgive the people that do me wrong

Forgive the people that are out to get me.

Forgive the people that are complete morons.

Forgive the people that are just taking up space on my planet (which is, as my creation, the center of my universe.  How dare they take up my space in my universe).

It makes driving down the road a whole new meditative experience.

Using ho'oponopono avoids being sucked into the other person’s energy.  It avoids being “hooked” by their “stuff”.  It avoids the emotional trap.


Exercise:          What do you want to forgive other people for?

                        What/who gets you hooked?  Salesmen?  Politicians?  Telemarketers?  Road rage?


You may have difficulty wanting to forgive somebody for something big.  That’s fine!  Let it be.  Pick something small.  You don’t have to walk into a gym and pick up the biggest weights in the room.  Start with something small.  We are building up a whole new set of muscles that you are not used to using.

You may have difficulty asking for forgiveness from other people.  Are you worthy of being forgiven?  Can you ask forgiveness from God, if not from others?

Politicians are wonderful practice material for ho'oponopono.  By practicing on our political leaders you get to clear yourself, the politicians and through you and them, you are cleansing the whole country.


Eyes open or closed?  My take on this is that if the thought comes up with your eyes open, practice ho'oponopono with your eyes open – it only takes three seconds!  If you are lying in bed with your eyes closed and the irritation comes in, let it go by practicing ho'oponopono with your eyes closed.


And if, at this stage, you still have doubts about this mumbo jumbo and me and my strange accent … please practice ho'oponopono on me!  You can say to yourself … “I’m sorry for bringing this weirdo into my day.  Please forgive me.  Thank You.  I love You.” 


Who am I saying this to?  The other person, myself, God?  The answer is “Yes!”


Ho'oponopono and self

Forgiving oneself for having created the situation.  Letting go of past regrets.  For me this was the biggie!  I tend to live in head and get caught up in my thoughts so that once I start beating myself up it used to be an closed loop of beating myself up, beating myself up for beating myself and “what was again that I was beating myself up for?”.  Ho'oponopono works great as a pattern interrupt.


Exercise:  Want do you want to forgive yourself for?

What have you done in the past that you wish you hadn’t?  What health challenges do you have that you wish you didn’t?

If the concept of forgiving yourself doesn’t work for you, try disassociating.  In a disassociated state, seeing yourself in the situation as another person, you can forgive that younger version of yourself as a separate person from you in the same way as you forgive others.


Ho'oponopono and God:

And if the concept of God doesn’t work for you fill in the blank.  I’m taking about The Divine, a Higher Power, The Universe, Your Higher Self etc.  Whatever works for you.


One way of thinking about ho'oponopono and God is that, because we are not separate from God,   there is nothing to forgive.  The original sin maybe the sin of thinking of ourselves as something separate from God.  Our experiences of life in this world around us is all an illusion.  No more than we need to forgive anything that happens in a dream, all this is an illusion. 


And much as I personally have an intellectual concept of “everything is an illusion”, I’m still human.  I have to admit that on a day-to-day basis I don’t have a strong connection with “It’s all an illusion”.  When I stub my toe it still hurts!


For those of us that still see ourselves as being separate from God, it may be important to ask for forgiveness from God.  “I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  Thank You.  I love You.”


Sharing ho'oponopono - Keeping Rapport

Ho'oponopono is first and foremost a personal technique.  When someone is annoying you, the only place to go to is, internally, “I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  Thank You.  I love You.”  Cleanse yourself first for creating them in your life before even thinking about correcting them. 


That said, once you start noticing the changes for yourself, you will want to share the technique with your friends and family (and isn’t your family a perfect practice ground for ho'oponopono).  Keep rapport!


My own mother dismissed ho'oponopono on the grounds of “been there, done that”.  She was very much into blessings and thought nothing of standing in public places with her hand on somebody’s head to bless them.  However, in conversation she could be very negative about people and events round her.  To keep rapport and still introduce her to ho'oponopono, I started to interrupt her with “Bless them” every time she talked negatively about someone (after, of course, saying “I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  Thank You.  I love You.”  in my own head first).  For her “Bless them” worked much better. 


Practice, practice, practice.
Have fun with this.  Use it.  On some days, I am probably using ho'oponopono many times a day – especially on those occasions when I catch myself in the middle of an internal mental argument with myself about someone in my life trying to prove to myself why I’m right and they’re wrong.  Use it as a mantra.  Share your life with it.  Share your home with it.  In fact while you’re at it, take a shower with it, drive your car with it, watch the news with it.  Use it all the time.


Your life will be different!


Ref: "Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace, and More" by Joe Vitale and Ihaleakala Hew Len