Is Ho'oponopono a "Magical Fix"?

Something has been bothering me, and I want to share it here. 

Ho'oponopono has a rich tradition of restoring harmony in families experiencing conflict -- and it long predates Christian missionaries ever visiting Hawaii.

Traditionally, the practice required gathering the entire family (including children!) together for an extended and honest discussion of their difficulties, in the context of prayer, sincere listening, repentance, and forgiveness. A family or community elder guided and arbitrated the process, making sure that explosive emotions were contained. Otherwise, the proceedings themselves could traumatize the group further. All layers of feeling and action were examined, though. And as needed, contrition and restitution were encouraged, planned for, and carried out.

You couldn't just dismiss someone's feelings about you -- you had to truly take in and consider them, and see how your own behavior was impacting others. I am sure many of these sessions brought out painful feelings, as each person took responsibility for his or her contributions to the problems. There was a releasing of ill feelings that might have been held for long periods. Not necessarily a "forgetting" of what had happened, but a letting go of hard, entrenched attitudes and grudges against each other.

Despite requiring lengthy, challenging sessions, these methods proved effective in remedying (and even preventing) family discord over time. In the widely quoted book, Nana I Ke Kumu (Look To The Source) psychiatrist E.W. Haertig MD says,

"Ho'oponopono may well be one of the soundest methods to restore and maintain good family relationships that any society has ever devised."
Producing this effect required ALL parts of the Ho'oponopono process, though -- not just one or two. Clearly, the internal attitude carried by each participant was important, as was the intention and experience of the elder arbitrating the process.

It was far more than a matter of saying 4 phrases and calling things "done." Describing the complexity of such family issues, Victoria Shook uses metaphor very skillfully:

"The metaphor of a tangled net has been used to illustrate how problems within a family affect not only persons directly involved but also other family members. The family is a complex net of relationships, and any disturbance in one part of the net will pull other parts. This metaphor reinforces the Hawaiian philosophy of the interrelatedness of all things." -- Victoria Shook, Ho'oponopono: Contemporary Uses of a Hawaiian Problem-Solving Process
Enter the current publicity about Ho'oponopono, which has exploded since Joe Vitale published his book Zero Limits with long-time Ho'oponopono teacher Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len (who was trained by and taught with Morrnah Simeona for over 10 years). Much of the book seems to quote seminars and conversations with Dr. Hew Len, who has said publicly that he hasn't even read the book. This makes me wonder how much of Zero Limits he actually wrote himself, if any.

Morrnah is said to have updated traditional Ho'oponopono for modern times. She noticed that it was difficult to physically gather everyone who might be involved in a family or group issue, and meditated on "how" to make the process an internal one -- between you and Divinity.

I did not know Morrnah Simeona personally, as others I've encountered did. Some have questioned the Ho'oponopono phrases attributed to her ("I'm sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you," etc) -- because they say she never mentioned those phrases in her teachings. They describe concerns that use of these phrases by themselves, may be an over-simplification of the very rich, deep Ho'oponopono process -- reducing it to a type of magical thinking, essentially.

It can also be a kind of New Age misappropriation of something which rightfully requires its entire context and culture, to be fully appreciated. 

People often object to the specific phrases "I'm sorry, Please forgive me." They ask why they should "have" to apologize to anyone, when they feel they're the ones victimized? And is it also possible to end up inadvertently "punishing the victims" further, by using this "updated for modern times" Ho'oponopono -- without honoring its complexity? ("Oh, you say you were raped -- what did you do to cause that?" etc). Of course, all this can happen -- in the service of human self-protection and defensiveness.

In response to such reactions, I've often heard Dr. Hew Len talk about human arrogance and alienation from ourselves. After all, if all parts of us are in alignment, things would already be "pono," or "right." We would see that our own "stuff" is part of the presenting mess, so to speak -- and we would take responsibility for it without shame or guilt. We'd do what is right and perfect to do about these things, and then move on. The process of Ho'oponopono is about doing what it takes to set things right, when they're askew -- to untangle that fish net of interrelatedness mentioned above. It might even go all the way back to the beginning of time, if our minds could encompass all that. 
 "Today Ho’oponopono is just like family therapy. This has been really influenced by the Christians. But I’m talking about the real Ho’oponopono from before they came. [Back] then the Hawaiians didn’t need to talk anymore. They could go straight to the Light. This is very ancient. It goes back to the start, because that’s where Hawaiians came from." – Dr. Hew Len, Shamanic Wisdomkeepers

This is where the going gets rocky, between the shoals of over-intellectualism (too many "words" and questions) and magical thinking ("just say the 4 phrases and you're good" -- nothing else needed to heal those relationships). Dr. Hew Len has been personally helpful to me in letting go of some of my own defensiveness and intellectualism, and I am very grateful to him and others who have taught me. His suggestion is that even if I do not completely understand all the issues myself, Divinity (who created me) certainly does. So if I am authentically repentant -- assuming responsibility for my own contributions to that tangled relationship net above, and willing to accept help -- Divinity will help sort things out. The process starts with me -- and I can signal my willingness through use of the phrases. Or the use of many other "cleaning tools" shared at Self-I-dentity Through Ho'oponopono trainings. The IZI group specifies that their work is "different from traditional Ho'oponopono problem solving."

Does this use of Ho'oponopono principles, represent magical thinking? I don't personally think so, because my orientation has always been towards caring for the deeper meanings of life. But I've also seen how some seem to glibly toss out a few phrases -- and then give up when these utterances don't seem to "work" (meaning things are not going according to their preferred plans, etc). This sort of expectation DOES seem like "magical thinking." So I can really understand why native Hawaiians are bothered by the "New Age Ho'oponopono" so common on the internet today. I don't want to contribute in any way to the cultural misappropriation of sacred Hawaiian practices -- nor do I want to suggest that Ho'oponopono offers "the cure" for any specific ailments or problems in our society. Nevertheless it has helped me grow as a human being, and to deal with certain issues in my own experience. For that, I can take 100% responsibility.

Will I continue using Ho'oponopono personally, in my own life? Yes. And will I keep being open to more learning and understanding? You betcha.

With love to all,
Peace begins with me


Anonymous said…
Hi Pam,

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

Please let me share this:

Dr Hew Len published incorrect information about ho'oponopono, and about his story about Hawaii State Hospital, about his job there and about the healings of the patients with Ho'oponopono in Hawaii State Hospital. Dr. Hew Len says in several interviews, articles, and in the book "Zero Limits" he healed his patients with a mantra (im sorry, please forgive me, i love you, thank you.). Thats incorrect, this are fake news. The whole world believes this things...

Michael Micklei knows Dr. Hew Len already at the time while Dr. Hew Len worked in the Hawaii state Hospital in the 1980s. Michael Micklei and Dr. Hew Len gave togehter Ho'oponopono seminars. In the seminars were teached only the 14-step ho'oponopono process of Morrnah Simeona. Not a Mantra.

Morrnah Simeona (1913 - 1992) was a native hawaiian kahuna. Michael Micklei accompanied Morrnah much time. He worked with Morrnah around 5 years together. Morrnah lived in Michael Mickleis and Yvettes home in Germany until she passed away in 1992. Michael Micklei translated Morrnah's 14-step ho'oponopono to german. He has been authorized to do so by Morrnah Simeona.

Michael Micklei from Pacifica Seminars says, that Dr. Hew Len have in the Hawaii State Hospital his patients healed with Morrnah's 14-step Ho'oponopono-Process. Never with a mantra.
Morrnah Simeona adapted the traditional Ho'oponopono to today's times and realities. She has developed a 14-step process. Everyone can learn and use it. This is a modern version of the traditional Ho'oponopono process. Morrnah has founded the “Pacifica Seminars” in the 1970s and then the “Foundation of I” to spread her 14-step ho'oponopono around the world. She made it possible for all people to solve their problems with her 14-Step Ho’oponopono.
In September 1990, Morrnah and Yvette Mauri founded “Pacifica Seminars” in Germany (see Pacifica Seminars Europe is the only organization in Europe, where you can learn Morrnah's original Ho'oponopono-process today, that was developed by Morrnah. Ramsay Taum teach the Ho'oponopono-process of Morrnah too in Hawaii.

Please let me share a comment of Michael Micklei. He says in a comment to an another person:

link to the comment:

Dr. Hew Len never healed with a mantra "i love you, please forgive you, im sorry, thank you." in Hawaii State Hospital. This mantra is not ho'oponopono, and it is not hawaiian.

Nobody talks about Morrnah's 14-step Ho'oponopono today. Morrnah's Ho'oponopono is no longer known to anyone today. Many people were misinformed by Dr. Hew Len and by the Book “Zero Limits” and by another books and organisations. Dr. Hew Len does not speak about Morrnahs 14-step ho'oponopono-process anymore and he doesen't speak about he healed his patients with Morrnah's 14-step ho'oponopono-process in Hawaii State Hospital. The people are misinformed. What reason have Dr. Hew Len to tell this lie? I don't understand it...

Michael Micklei has written 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 it):

Please share it and spread this information to another people :-) It is in the interests of all people.

Aloha and cheers

Patrice C.
Pam Pappas MD said…

Thank you for reaching out again. I published your previous comment (identical to this one) that you made on another post of mine, yesterday. I responded to you there also.

As mentioned yesterday, I appreciate your sharing your views and the views of Mr. Micklei. Unlike him, Dr. Hew Len, and many others, I did not know Morrnah personally. Nor was I present at Hawaii State Hospital to see what specific processes were used for the results described.

What I can see is that Pacifica Seminars and IZI, LLC appear to be at odds in their methodologies. Also each entity could have competing business interests. I am not associated with either of these organizations. I have, however, taken many seminars over many years with IZI, LLC -- which claims to be the "only" organization teaching Morrnah's authentic Ho'oponopono process. In reading Mr. Micklei's web site and also his comment that you have quoted, there are at least 2 groups now claiming that status -- and I leave it to them to work it out accordingly.

Personally, I am much more interested in what learning about Ho'oponopono can do for all of us on this planet. I am not in a position to know whether 12 steps or 14 is "correct" -- or whether certain liberties may have been taken with Morrnah's teachings. Or even, whether these may have evolved through sincere meditation and practice. I am ignorant, but wonder about the latter possibility.

In the meantime, I will continue my own personal practice of Ho'oponopono -- and will continue to share about this as one caring human to others. I acknowledge that some will vilify me for this, but I am grateful for the peace it brings me regardless.

Peace begins with me,

Siret said…
It's so interesting that after more than a year without checking your blog, i feel guided to do it, just two days after you publish a new post.
It has come to my awareness that i need to deepen my cleaning. I have never take an IZI LLC seminar, although i hope to do it this year, so all i have are the known tools publicly available. I feel i still don't take 100% responsability of my reality, but i'm willing to. Since ho'oponopono came to me, in april 2014, my life has changed completely. I wonder how much more Peace i would be able to experience if i commit with my cleaning even more.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and perspective. I treasure your posts dearly.

Siret Ester
Pam Pappas MD said…
Dear Siret,

Thank you for your comment, and most of all for your cleaning. We are all in the fishnet together -- sometimes "knotted," it seems! :-) The cleaning can help set everyone free.

Peace begins with me,
Anonymous said…
Hi Pam,

Please let me share a comment of Michael Micklei (for the people who do not have a facebook account). He says in a comment to an another person:

“Aloha xxx,
one can clearly see that you love ho'oponopono. My wife and me and many people in Germany do it also. But let me share some knowledge I am aware about Dr. Len. I was working around 5 years with Morrnah, the last year she lived in our home in Kirchheim nearby Munich, she passed away nearly in my arms. So pls let me share this:

SITH is not a registered TM by Dr. Len or "The Foundation of I". It is registered in the USA by the Lucas Film several times for the "Lords of SITH", which are the Lords of Darkness.

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 comment:

Everyone should decide for themselves.

Aloha and cheers
Pam Pappas MD said…
Dear Patrice (and Michael),

Thank you for your comments. Yes, I do love Ho'oponopono.

Again, I am not in a position to argue what Dr. Hew Len did or didn't do at Hawaii State Hospital -- and have never claimed to be.

Your comments about the trademark for "SITH" are interesting, but perhaps not quite right according to publicly available information:

The Foundation of I was associated with this, at least at one time as all can see.

In regards to "killing the Divine" -- I don't know for sure, but would guess that he might have meant killing what one THINKS the Divine is. For instance, many assume Ho'oponopono "cleaning" is like putting in your order with Divinity, as if it is your "concierge." Dr. Hew Len always said that Divinity is NOT a "concierge" -- and he is also quite a good jokester who knows how to get a rise out of people. I understand Morrnah herself could do this too. The vast sea of what I do not know, way engulfs the tiny speck anything I know.

Peace begins with me,
Dear Friend Pam,

If you look at both neutrally, with an intent to get the best teachings to be harnessed with, I do not find any problem with either of teachings if they were for universal good. For me they both are honorable teachers of a science to heal, what really matters is my intent to connect with Divine to good for me and for universe, I am sure if my Intent is pure...Divine will come to listen to me, because He shows us the pathways to tread on so as to meet the Divine Mission.

AM I right Pam ?

~Prashant (India)

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