What does this really mean?
We often find humor in exaggerating troublesome concepts. With this, Parisi hits the nail on the head!
People can derive widely different ideas from hearing the same phrase. For some, being told to "put ourselves first" might justify narcissistically exploiting others as if they exist only to satisfy our needs. Or, it could suggest ignoring the legitimate needs of others when they inconvenience us.
I don't know that such interpretations express the true spirit of Ho'oponopono, since we can't hurt others without also hurting ourselves.
In fact, some of Dr. Hew Len's most memorable teleseminar calls have been about acknowledging the needs of even seemingly "inanimate" objects such as houses, chairs, computers, cars, and land. He's discussed how ignoring these causes chaos. Even the rooms in which Ho'oponopono live seminars are held are are viewed as sacred, and attended to lovingly. They are given time to "rest" between class sessions.
On the other hand, ignoring our own needs and sacrificing ourselves to others creates set-ups for resentment. All kinds of tangled relationships can result -- not only in the present, but perhaps future generations as well.
Instead of lopsided arrangements, Ho'oponopono seems to advocate more equal energy exchanges between people. For instance, reasonable fees are charged for training seminars. Also, people are treated as capable of receiving their own Inspirations through the cleaning processes shared; no human guru claims to have the absolute final answer on what is correct. That is left to Divinity.
Managing our own needs while also being responsive to others is a basic and longstanding human struggle.
Some of us may never have learned how to care for ourselves, but Ho'oponopono assists us with this. Through the ministrations of an inner Mother (Uhane), Ho'oponopono models care and concern for our Inner Child (unihipili). Also it describes a caring inner Father (Aumakua) which is always in harmony with a loving and responsive Divinity. Ho'oponopono offers processes and tools to "tune in" and strengthen connections and interchange between these aspects of ourselves.
Learning to care for self has to come before caring appropriately for others. After all, a dry well can nourish no one.
Ho'oponopono also embodies the essence of Love, whose very nature is to give of Itself. Perhaps a natural outgrowth of healthy self-care is the ability to give unselfishly to others, without expecting anything in return. This is very different from masochistic self-sacrifice, and has an entirely different feel. There is freedom in unselfish giving, but self-sacrifice is full of bondage and expectation.
Some will call me childish, but with last week's holiday I can't help but think of Father Christmas' kind of giving. He and his elves have such fun preparing toys for all the world's children -- and it's an outflow of the Love in him. When we share ourselves with others (even other adults!) in this joyous way, this loving spirit is alive in us, too.
Let's hope Santa takes some "personal" days on his calendar to rest, recharge, and care for himself. Even the heart, the busiest muscle in the body, has both systole (contraction) AND diastole (rest).
Maybe Dr. Hew Len and Mabel will tell us more in person, when they share in Marina del Ray in January. I'm looking forward to it -- they always have surprises in store!
Peace begins with me,