Radical Forgiveness & the Practice of Ho'oponopono

The practice of Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian tradition of forgiveness by healing memories of the past in order to be aware, receptive, and loving in the present.  This timeless practice is aimed at creating a new perspective in how one interacts with his or her environment. Using the simple mantra, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you,” creates an opening for reconciliation of old memories. Once used by the Hawaiian people to solve disputes among their community, the healing benefits of Ho’oponopono has been shared to create meaningful change in the world.

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The purpose of Ho’oponopono is to heal past grievances and to shift perception from a victim consciousness toward love and gratitude. Our memories of the past help to create our present thought patterns.  If there is conflict in the present, the solution is to make peace with actions and outcomes from the past. After learning about Ho’oponopono, I incorporated this practice of healing. Many years ago, my brother and I had a falling out. My sexual identity was difficult for him to accept, and when I suggested his son may be similar our divide deepened.  The conversation created a lasting separation between my brother and me.

“I’m sorry” is the first step in the process. By acknowledging one’s previous actions and asking for forgiveness, space is created for healing to occur.  In my heart, I had to acknowledge that my words invoked a negative reaction for my brother. “Please forgive me” allows him to release his own grievances toward the situation and show mercy. “Thank you” gives witness to the mercy while bringing peace and serenity to the mind, body, and intellect.  “I love you” expands compassion into adoration. Love is expressed for the healing, the lesson learned, and the shift in perception. This is an affirmation for continued growth.

Sending love toward my brother and having compassion for him in the moment eases the tension of the situation.  Although we have yet to rekindle our relationship, the once hostile emotions, the use of hateful speech, and the need to prove a point have faded away. Where love is present, Light flourishes. The practice of Ho’oponopono can be done every day and incorporated into any situation. In developing such a practice there is a shift from blaming others toward radical responsibility.

Radical responsibility is the understanding that everything happening in one’s life is their own creation. Whether it is a joyful celebration or a painful setback, the thought patterns of an individual creates their surrounding environment. This is an easy concept to digest when events are seamless and positive, but is often dismissed during troubling times.  The experience of my brother’s words was a mirror to the homophobia within myself. I had only recently come out prior to this dispute, and his hostility towards me mirrored the emotions I was confronting within.

Ho’oponopono is used in order to to acknowledge one’s responsibility in creating the current sequence of events, to make amends, and heal from the experience. Developing such a practice takes ownership of past events and thought patterns while shifting the present and future toward a more harmonious state of being. This practice can be extremely humbling. What is gained from Ho’oponopono will have a ripple effect far beyond what is seen.  Having such far reaching benefits, it is no wonder the Hawaiians practiced it to strengthen the bonds of their communities.