The real meaning of “ho’oponopono”
I see a lot of people lately wanting to use the amazingly powerful and brilliant 4 statements of ho’oponopono:
Please forgive me
I love you
And yet, I’m also noticing a lot of folks who don’t seem to know where this comes from or what it means, and understandably, are changing this 12 letter Hawaiian word ‘ho’oponopono’ to something that is at best inaccurate and worst has the opposite meaning of what is desired, and this is very important because as the Hawaiian proverb states: in the word is life, in the word is death, in the word is power!
And you know from using the words in our 4 statements that they have very positive and beneficial effects, so we would not want to mistakenly use words to create more problems now would we?
For example, “ho’opo” could be interpreted to mean: ‘to make hell’!! Is that what they intend? Probably not!
Most likely, they mean ‘to forgive’, for which Hawaiians would probably use the word ‘kala’, which has a meaning of dis-entangling or freeing-up.
So where does ho’oponopono come from? Well it’s a Hawaiian word made up of 3 parts so let’s break it down:
Ho’o – means to cause or make
Pono – has many meanings but in this context means right,
Pono – ditto
So putting this together Ho’oponopono means ‘to make right right’ or to make doubly right, or very right, because doubling a word increases its intensity.
So why the vagueness of translation? Well, written Hawaiian has the same 5 vowels as in English, but pronounced short, as in Spanish; but only 8 consonants – h, k, l, m, n, p, w, ‘. The ‘ is called an okina in Hawaiian and pronounced as a glottal stop, a bit like the slang ‘init’ only the last t isn’t pronounced.
With so few letters, there are far fewer letter combinations so most words have multiple meanings, and pono has at least 6 in the Pukui-Elbert Hawaiian-English dictionary!!
Which means that the meanings of words can change depending on the context, which makes Hawaiian a little tricky to translate or understand, somtimes even for native speakers!
But just ho’opono on its own is not sufficient
Ho’opono – righteous, correct, upright, respectable.
For example, one of my teachers, the late Hula master, John Ka’imikaua, wrote a poem on the 20 minute flight from Honolulu, and apologised for it only having THREE meanings! As a revered expert he felt he was meant to do better!
So what words should we use and how should we shorten them?
Well to be honest there probably isn’t a good way round this. As we’ve seen, shortening changes the meaning, sometimes to the opposite of what we want, so the best bet is to just get used to typing out the whole word, or using shorter English ones.
Happy making things right-right in your world!!
Next: How to get the most out of using the 4 statements method of Ho’oponopono
Malama pono. In love and humbleness, All truths are my teachers, all mis-takes are my own.
Mahalo nui loa
Thank you for reading
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