Aloha Gary’s guide to Hawaiian Ho’oponopono Healing and much more… Part 4 – The Origins of Hawaiian Ho’oponopono

by the ocean at Keauhou Beach HotelAloha Gary’s guide to Hawaiian Ho’oponopono Healing and much more…

Part 4 – The Origins of Hawaiian Ho’oponopono

‘A ohe pau ko ike I kau halau’ – think not all wisdom is in your school – Hawaiian proverb

To discover the origins of Ho’oponopono, it really helps to put this into context to understand a little more about the Hawaiian’s culture and history. Even Dr Len’s teacher, Morrnah Simeona, taught ho’oponopono differently from how it is now portrayed, so there are many ways for you to learn to help your ability to forgive.

After Captain Cook’s ‘discovery’ of the Hawaiians, it was commented by the explorers as to how fit and healthy the whole population was, and there were some who thought the Hawaiians were a race of giants as they were often well over six feet tall in an era when the common navy sailor was only five feet!

In fact, there was very little sickness, and no signs of any mental health issues whatsoever, in the days when Europe and USA were ravaged by dread diseases and sickness.

This can be attributed to the Hawaiian culture and way of life, which put great attention to being fit and healthy, for which the Hawaiian term is ho’omana, which means ‘to make life force energy’. Were you ever taught at school how to make life force energy? No? Me neither, it is not the kind of thinking or focus we are used to in the west!

In fact, the Hawaiians had a complete system of well being, more equivalent to the Indian Ayurveda, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, which included Lomi Lomi massage and acupressure, Ho’omanaloawhich means to make divine energy (similar in principle to reiki), La’au lapa au or herbal healing, dentists and child specialists, midwives, and La’au kahea, who made ‘talking cures’ which today we might call psychology, and all running alongside appropriate ‘pule’ or prayers.

These disciplines were overseen by the Hawaiian professional classes known as Kahuna, who were the equivalent of the university professors and experts of their day. There were over 40 different kinds, including kahuna of farming, cooking, building, ocean navigation, accountancy, history, Hula, priests, fishing and even kahuna of ‘tree choosing’ (to ensure the ocean-going canoes would not break apart in mid-ocean!)

In addition to the Kahuna, most families would have at least one person they could call on to help with the sick, and these skills and prayers were passed down within families, whilst others were jealously guarded by certain groups of Kahuna who we might think of as similar to medieval craft guilds of Europe.

When Captain Cook arrived, Hawaiian society was heavily stratified, with the local King, who might rule all or part of an island, with the Ali’i or ruling chiefs, then the Kahuna, and then the freemen, although this was not tied to land ownership as it was in Europe, all land ‘belonging’ to the King who apportioned it among his chiefs and family.

But it was not always so. Archaeologists tell us that the first settlers arrived in Hawaii around 1AD but these may not have been Polynesians. Certainly the Hawaiians own history highlights the arrival around 1200AD of a powerful Polynesian war chief and warriors from Tahiti who conquered the peaceful previous occupants, and it seems, may have wiped them out, although apparently not all of their teachings were lost with them, because these are the teachings which contribute to the ‘Spirit of Aloha’ or as we have seen it called here, ho’omana.

There was a great care to ensure emotional and mental well-being too, and part of the reason modern Hawaiians seem to be so laid back, is because they work at the attitudes and mindset needed to achieve this, and this is taught to the keiki  (children) as they grow up by their ’ohana kupuna  (family elders). Elders are not merely old, but are respected for their wisdom and knowledge, and are often given the name of Uncle or Auntie as a term of respect as well as endearment.

In ‘Tales from the Night Rainbow’ the oral history of Kail’ohe Kame’ekua, she tells “of ‘aha family meetings where the kupuna family council ruled because they had the greatest mana (power-energy) and wisdom, and for this reason they were our leaders. They handled all disputes within the family and with outsiders. Everyone went to the meeting, no exceptions.

At the meeting family members were reminded of teachings, when it was felt needed. One teaching that people needed reminding of most frequently was: to forgive and not forget is not to forgive at all. Forgiving and forgetting are part of the same whole. To say you have forgiven and continue to bring up the problem is a great error and is to carry a large rock in your ‘bowl of light’. Old hurts and stories are not revisited, and they die with the generation who lived them. The ‘aumakua, family spirit, was also part of the family circle, perhaps best understood as a family guardian angel“.

These meetings may include the whole extended family, with people travelling long distances to be present. Every family member was expected to attend.

Sometimes if family elders were too closely involved in the issues, or were unable to resolve them, a respected person, in ancient times a Kahuna, or in modern times a mediator or Minister, would be invited to facilitate the ho’oponopono meeting.

In ‘Nana i ke kumu’, Mary Pukui described it as a practice of extended family members meeting to “make right” broken family relations. Some families met regularly to prevent problems from erupting. Others met when a person became ill, believing that illness was caused by the stress of anger, guilt, recriminations and lack of forgiveness, believing that full healing without recurrence could only occur when the whole family fully forgave each other. Such meetings may take a few hours, or even days to complete, with each family member having their say. Sometime things would become heated, and a ‘time-out’ would be called, while the kahuna perhaps spoke or did healing for individuals involved in the situation, until everyone had their say and all were satisfied with the outcome, and no longer harbouring any grudges.

So knowing your own family, imagine bringing the whole family together and trying to resolve all the historical family issues? Now you can see why this may take several days!

This may seem strange or a new way of thinking to you. In fact, Harvard and other prestigious Medical Schools now agree that 95% of ALL ailments and dis-eases are caused by tension in the body, caused by emotional stress. (although Hawaiians would say this should be 100%!)

Some Hawaiians would go as far as to say that the physical body is caused by the emotional body which itself is caused by the mental body. In other words what you think about, you bring about, because energy flows where attention goes. The Hawaiian principle of Makia.

And amazingly as you will discover, certain ailments often have predictable causes! See Louise Hay’s powerful book ‘You can heal your life’ for more on this, as well as looking out for my later article on the causes of illness and other Hawaiian healing principles and methods.

So as you can see forgiveness becomes incredibly important in keeping you and your family well, but the question is, how?

As the Hawaiian proverb goes: ‘think not all wisdom is in your school’, in other words, lets be open minded to discover new ways that we may learn, and explore other people’s ideas and wisdom, to help us ho’omana or increase our life force energy.

Because although ‘family forgiveness’ was commonplace, not everyone called it ho’oponopono, but how this worked could differ from island to island and even from family to family, so here is an overview of the typical stages.

The process begins with prayer by all present, stating the desired outcome, and assistance is requested from the family ‘aumakua and ancestors and divinity in a way that is appropriate for each persons faith.

Appropriate attitudes and states of mind are explained and encouraged. The meeting opens with prayer as a group and individually, and family ‘ancestral spirits’ and guardians are invited.

A statement of the problem is made, and the illness/situation discussed. Everyone’s feelings are acknowledged and everyone participates telling their perspective, there are no observers, as a problem for one family member is deemed to effect everyone. Family members are expected to work towards a satisfactory outcome for everyone, and not to be intransigent. This is where an external authority figure such as a kahuna or minister can encourage shifts, that may not be possible within the family. There may be periods of silence for meditation or contemplation and reflection.

Everyone opens up and explains what happened and how they feel. Then the process of forgiveness begins, perhaps individually at first, and then gradually including the whole family.  Those involved admit their mis-takes, and if appropriate apologise or give restitution.

Everyone releases (kala – forgives) each other, letting go. They cut cords with the past, and together they close the event with a pule prayer of release and then perhaps celebrate the end of the situation with a ceremonial feast, called pani, which often included eating limu kala or kala seaweed, symbolic of the release.

This cutting cords part is really important and deserves more explanation, as this is a core part of the whole process, which is emphasised in the version of Ho’oponopono from the Island of Hawaii which I share and teach in my workshops, and is one of the three key healing meditations on my Ho’oponopono Hawaiian Chill Out CD. Along with the concept of forgiving people firstly, not for what they did, but for not being the person the other wanted them to be,

And you will get a little more insight from this video of the old story of 2 monks…

Because the Hawaiians believe that we each have a body made up of aka a kind of ether or energy, for example, just rub your hands together quickly for a minute or so and then draw them apart, and then slowly bring them back together again and notice there is a point where you start to ‘feel’ the other hand even though they are not touching yet? This is aka.

And when we meet or connect with someone we make a heart to heart energy link of this aka, and normally when we part, that link drops. But if we have some kind of conflict or issue, then the link stays up and you continue to send energy to the other person, and the more you are emotional about the situation the more energy you send to them, even if they have totally forgotten they have ever met you!

So the question is, do you want to send energy to people you don’t like? No? I thought not! But the longer you hold onto the cord, the more entangled you become with the other person! These connections are also called Hala.

My mentor and inspiration, the late Uncle George Lanakilakeikiahiali’I Naope (Kahuna Po’o O ka Hula), told us that in ancient times, ALL things were considered forgiveable, sometimes even murder!

He outlined three main reasons for forgiveness:

Hala – To miss the path or to err by omission.

Remember that when you make a mistake you are making a mis-take, or a miss take. It is not the end of the world, simply a stepping off of the path. Very little is final. Most mis-takes can be rectified simply by stepping back onto your path and continuing. Perseverance is a great skill that is much undervalued today, you only fail if you give up, keeping going is often all that is needed.

This can also include repression, denial, avoidance, feeling sorry for…sadness, guilt, and not enforcing your boundaries strongly enough.

Hewa – To go overboard or to do to excess.

This includes but is no means limited to: workaholism, over-cleanliness or over-tidyness, not just things like alcoholism, or addictions, or food problems like bulimia. One of the most insidious that I see regularly on workshops or in my therapy practice is perfectionism – this can be a huge drain always trying to be perfect, which let’s face it is impossible. Time to cut yourself some slack.

It is also a major problem in business, slowing things down. Because of the over-focus on regulations these days, many are afraid of making a mistake, when often taking action and discovering the consequences can be the easiest and best value way to learn and to make progress!

This can also include excesses, obsessions, collections, anger, hate and revenge.

‘Ino – To do harm, either accidentally or even intentionally with hate in mind

Again this can include revenge or even trying to do down a rival at work either internally, or a competitor. Typically these are much more serious, yet even these are forgiveable, even if that may take a little more time for some.

Includes, harm to self, or judging self, or self deprecation. So note that Hawaiians sense of humour is not self-deprecating, and ‘banter’ may be taken personally.

So as we can see traditional Ho’oponopono is very different, albeit with some similar intentions to clear and release connections (memories) and disentangle us from our cords and webs.

I have researched many dozens if not hundreds of healing and therapy styles from around the world and I have not found anything as powerful at helping people to forgive as these Ho’oponopono techniques described, and the meditations often bring instant release of tears, or just a feeling of sheer relief at letting go such a burden. This is a major gift from Hawaii to the world.

So we can summarise the use and purpose of traditional Hawaiian Ho’oponopono as follows:

A system for maintaining good relationships among family, friends or colleagues or within an organisation or group.

A system for communal problem solving, righting mis-takes and creating balance and harmony within the family group.

A process for making right any stressful situation or relationship, including couples. All are set free from tensions released in these relationships.

It gets the family together to discover the source of illness or sickness. Sometimes this can be the ‘family ailment’, that is (allegedly) inherited or genetic. It is often the family’s faulty thinking that is inherited or passed down that leads to this ailment. It gets to the root cause and goes beyond symptoms.

It releases negative effects from the past and present, sometimes from generations ago, by cleansing physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually through the process of openness, love, forgiveness, and transmutation.

It is a very powerful method of conflict resolution that works in the real world, it is not merely theoretical, it has been practiced for hundreds of years.

It embraces spiritual truths, providing a deeper level of resolution and harmony.

Ho’oponopono is just one small part of the overall Hawaiian Spirit and Wisdom system, sometimes called Huna or Ho’omana, albeit a powerful and important one. There are many other tools and techniques within Huna to speed up the process too, because different people react, well, differently. Or ‘horses for courses’ as they say!

Plus there are other Huna techniques that can be used at the same time as the 4 statement process, and other tools which can run alongside it. The Ancient Hawaiians, really knew what they were doing, because they have had hundreds of years to perfect these techniques, of which, more in Part 6, What more can I learn from Huna and Ho’oponpono.

And so back to the origins of our ‘4 statement Ho’oponopono’.

I have seen this variously described :

  • Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian technique that helps anyone to release resistance, remove blocks and improve energy flow.
  • Ho’oponopono mantra cleaning meditations prayers I am sorry Please forgive me I love you I thank you.
  • Hooponopono is a simple process of releasing negative energies, allowing a new space for the healing power of your true Divinity in thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.

These definitions would have Hawaiians puzzled and scratching their heads as this is very different from their traditional and ancient approach.

So now we reach the point at which you probably came in, Joe Vitale,  Morrnah Simeona, Dr Hew Len and …. in our next exciting episode…

Part 5 – The book ‘Zero Limits’ and the course-book ‘Self Identity through 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

Aloha Gary

For more on the amazingly powerful healing and wisdom teachings of Ancient Hawaii – visit Aloha Gary’s blog at  or

And please like/join the ho’oponopono facebook page

© Gary Plunkett 2012 – all rights reserved

This article may be reproduced in FULL or part, ONLY if it includes the above weblinks, otherwise please contact author at  to make appropriate arrangements


Nana i ke kumu – Pukui, Hertig, Lee

Tales from the Night Rainbow – Willis and Lee

Self Identity Through Ho’oponopono – Morrnah Simeona

You can heal your life – Louise Hay

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3 Responses to “Aloha Gary’s guide to Hawaiian Ho’oponopono Healing and much more… Part 4 – The Origins of Hawaiian Ho’oponopono”

  1. Željka Kakarigi Says:

    Aloha to everyone in Ho’oponopono UK Lovers, Gary and Helpers from all the planet Gaia.
    Mahalo nui for all nice cleansing tools, and Forgiveness Prayers which so nicely in a very simple way do magnificent cleansing of our trash memories and we let all of them go free ti Lord / Universe. To put them to a Zero energy level. So we are emptied like a glass to accept new better things which make us happy, harmonized, balanced and full of love, light, peace, compassion, empathy to share within ourselves and without.
    Thanks, be blessed, mahalo mahalo nui, alo’ha.

  2. anne close Says:

    can anyone tell me how to find a UK course in Hooponopono please?

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