The Huna practice of Ho’oponopono that most people are coming to know today is remarkably different from its original roots. The origins of the practice are a community reconciliation process – like many Pacific Island restorative processes – which involved entire communities taking responsibility for restoring balance, harmony and forgiveness when this had been broken.
“Restorative justice is a philosophy that embraces a wide range of human emotions including healing, mediation, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, reconciliation as well as sanction when appropiate. It also recognises a world view that says we are all interconnected and that what we do be it for good or evil has an impact on others.”
— “Restorative Justice – The Pacific Way” Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Prison Abolition; Barcelona, Spain, 17 – 19 May 1995; by Jim Consedine (see link at the end of this post)
I first learnt about restorative justice in law school in Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand. Thankfully, I was at a very culturally connected law school, where we openly spoke about community justice systems and how the Pākehā system failed to take into account restoration of balance within the community. It simply punished the offender. But the community continued to suffer and hurt.
Restoring balance in my life
So, when I came across Ho’oponopono as a meditative practice, I knew that it was so much more than simply 4 lines:
- I love you
- I’m sorry
- Please forgive me
- Thank you
Not because I knew anything about the Hawaiian Huna practice itself, but simply because I recognised that there was so much more to restoration than simply saying “sorry”! The place to start, as always, was within myself. First, I had to be at peace within myself, in order to be able to connect with others and think about forgiving them. Ultimately, forgiveness would be about restoring all balance and returning to center.
I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a Christian environment. I had it drummed into me that we were to forgive and forget. And yet, I was sorely lacking in knowing HOW to forgive. I repeatedly heard “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us” and that we were to forgive 7 times 70 times (=490) for each offense.
But what does that really mean?
Where do you start the process of truly forgiving another, especially when the pain is more than just skin deep?
You start by looking in the mirror and recognising that within yourself is the person that hurt you the most.
Ho’oponopono is based on the knowledge that anything that happens to you or that you perceive — the entire world where you live — is your own creation. Everything in your life is entirely your responsibility: 100%. No exceptions.
Please don’t misunderstand what I mean. I did not say it was your fault. I said it’s your responsibility. You are 100% responsible for:
- healing yourself;
- changing the relationship you have with that other person; and
- changing your perception of the world and making it a better place.
And so, with Ho’oponopono I started a journey of learning to restore balance within myself. Of changing my inner world in order to effect change in the exterior world.
Three steps PLUS gratitude
How did I heal myself with Ho’oponopono?
I started by reminding myself, regularly and consistently of love “I love you”. “I love you” just as I am today, with mistaken views and perceptions of the world, with perceptions that have not allowed me to grow and change my situation, and with all the baggage that I have chosen to carry around. But I love you.
And because I love you, I recognise that whatever comes to me in this life is my creation – it is the outcome of memories I have buried in my mind, and I have been holding onto, thereby attracting more of the same!
Once I recognise this, I can tell myself “Sorry”. Sorry for the errors of thought, words and actions that created those memories and held onto that energy.
Please forgive me – is giving myself permission to release that – to set myself free. And then letting it go.
And then, of course, the practice of gratitude – gratitude for the freedom that this brings! Gratitude for the change in my way of thinking, speaking, and acting. Thank you for the new opportunities this creates. Thank you for the changes that will start happening in my relationships and how I relate to others.
I invite you to join me on this journey of discovery – where we can learn together what it means to heal the world and restore balance to hurting communities, by starting within.
“A Kind of Mending: Restorative Justice in the Pacific Islands” by