Ho'oponopono is a Hawaiian word that is becoming quite well known all around the world. Unfortunately, all too often it is being misinterpreted, misunderstood, and increasingly exploited.
To truly and correctly understand what Ho’oponopono is, let’s go to the source:
The Hawaiian Dictionary, authored by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Elbert, defines ho'oponopono as "to put to rights; to put in order or shape, correct, revise, adjust, amend, regulate, arrange, rectify, tidy up, make orderly or neat, administer, superintend, supervise, manage, edit, work carefully and neatly; to make ready, as canoemen preparing to catch a wave."
Language books on Hawaiian will often have a sentence like, E ho'oponopono i ka hale a me ka pa ("Tidy up the house and clean up the yard." This is the most common use of the word in Hawaiian.
Pukui adds the meaning of "to restore and maintain good relationships among family, and family-and-supernatural powers." Also, "The specific family conference in which relationships were 'set right' through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness."
In 1976, according to the websites of Wikipedia and Amazing Women In History, Hawaiian healer Morrnah Simeona created a new system of ho'oponopono, influenced by her studies of Christianity, Eastern philosophies and the works of Edgar Cayce, but essentially based on her deep spirituality and broad knowledge of Hawaiian traditions. What made her system so different was that it was designed for individual practice without the need for a group.
The basic practice designed by Morrnah was simply to express forgiveness for something on behalf of someone else. She used to visit battlefields and forgive all the anger and pain and suffering that happened there. As she would walk down the street and connect with the people, she would ask forgiveness on their behalf for whatever they needed. As she herself said, "Clean, erase, erase and find your own Shangri-La. Where? Within yourself. The process is essentially about freedom, complete freedom from the past." Her work has been carried on by Dr. Hew Len, who has emphasized the extension of one's identity to include anything or anyone else who needs healing. He developed the formulistic phrase "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you." By repetition of these phrases a person was supposed to connect his or her own light with the light of the Divine Source and, over time, dissolve disharmonious patterns in the subconscious.
Today this is probably the most well-known version of Ho'oponopono as a healing practice outside of Hawaii. Unfortunately because of his modern form; the word, ho’oponopono, is most often translated today as “forgiveness”. The important thing to know is that the concept of ho'oponopono is based on ancient Hawaiian tradition and one of the Hawaiian's most sacred values; and the word does not mean "forgiveness." It means "to set things right" in a morally correct way, regardless of how you do it.
And we in the western world are very fortunate to have this modern form, that is wonderful tool for problem-solving, while also having the ancient and more traditional practices as well, which the Hawaiian people have only started to share with us in recent years. With Ho’oponopono, we find a beautiful blend today of the ancient and modern forms, especially for the “making right”, to create peaceful resolutions for conflict in all relationships that occur and are a part of life.