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Ho‘oponopono and Family Constellations: A Traditional Hawaiian Healing Method for Relationships, Forgiveness and Love

Ho‘oponopono and Family Constellations: A Traditional Hawaiian Healing Method for Relationships, Forgiveness and Love

In this excerpt from Ho‘oponopono and Family Constellations, A traditional Hawaiian healing method for relationships, forgiveness and love author Ulrich Dupree describes what Ho’oponopono is and how the concept can be used to heal our relationships, our world, and ourselves.

What is it?

Ho‘oponopono is one of the kahuna sciences, ancient shamanistic teachings from Hawaii, and describes a method for resolving personal problems and interpersonal conflict. The aim of ho‘oponopono is to heal relationships on many levels: (1) with yourself in particular, (2) with other people, (3) with your environment (nature) and (4) with the Source of all things.

Ho‘oponopono has been practiced as a kind of family therapy and mediation for centuries, but over the last few decades it has developed from a traditional family conference into a self-help method that is nowadays often used in a simplified version. The heart of ho‘oponopono is a forgiveness ritual. By accepting, absolving, forgiving and reconciling, ho‘oponopono is an aid for life in three major areas of conflict:

(1) relationships, partnerships and family
(2) profession, vocation and livelihood
(3) activating your powers of self-healing
(by reducing stress, for example).

The meaning of the word

Depending on the context, ho‘o can mean ‘to do, arrange or construct something’. Again depending on context, the word pono can be translated as

(1) ‘correct’,
(2) ‘flexible’ or even
(3) ‘compassion’. In relationships in particular, you have to be flexible and put your ego to one side. Overlooking little faults is not only compassionate but also makes life more pleasant, as it is generally true to say that people who make lots of rules in a relationship will live in close confinement, and who likes to live in a mental prison of their own devising? As the Hawaiian priest Haleaka Iolani Pule explains:
‘With ho‘oponopono, it’s not about who’s right or wrong, it’s about good relationships.’

Putting things right again

Ho‘oponopono can be translated literally as ‘making things rightly right’, ‘putting things right again’ or ‘restoring divine order’. The idea behind it is that everything flows from the Source of all things (Hawaiian: ke akua oi’a’io), whose essence, mana aloha, is pure love.

To the ancient Hawaiians, life was a great river (Hawaiian: wai wai) of material and spiritual wealth to which one needs only to turn and/or open up mentally and spiritually. Life itself is richness and a person living in harmony with themselves and the cosmos is able to live happily, healthily and in prosperity.

Re-establishing the cosmic order
The word pono appears twice, as two people are always required both for a harmonious relationship in which all concerned can grow together, and for conflict, which can be exhausting. For a relationship to be fundamentally balanced, the solution to any problem has to be pono for all concerned: right for you and right for me. Right for people, right for animals, right for every plant and right for the Earth.
The sole aim of this method of healing conflict at every level is to achieve a ‘win-win’ relationship – you are trying to create relationships in which everyone involved comes out on top. A ‘win-lose’ relationship – for example, in your professional life, when workers in third-world countries pay with their health because of precarious working conditions or when pesticides that harm the environment are used in agriculture – is really a ‘lose-lose’ relationship – everybody involved loses out, as you cannot base your happiness on the suffering of others.

Right – inside and out
Ponopono, ‘right, inside and out’, is based on the cosmic principle of resonances (Hawaiian: kuolo). This means, for example, that external environmental pollution will resonate within you in the form of a pollution of the heart. By the same token, considerate types of people who cause fewer problems for their fellow inhabitants on the planet would also suffer fewer lifestyle diseases themselves. But a hole in a heart with no love is a bottomless pit and will cry out to be filled.

Symptoms of deficiency appear in the world only because of this vacuum in the heart, as the causal chain begins in the spirit. You could also say that everything is created twice – first in our imaginations and then on a material level.

Le ‘ale’a ka ‘ōlelo i ka pohu aku o loko.

If you are calm inside, everything that
 leaves you is pleasant.
~ Hawaiian proverb

Right for you, right for me
When our thoughts and intentions are loving, compassionate and peaceful, the outcome will be a pleasant one. Just like everything else in the universe, ponopono obeys the fundamental law of cause and effect: ka ua mea. Everything we do and everything we fail to do has an effect. The circumstances of our lives are not there by coincidence, they are the result of our thoughts, the decisions we made on the strength of these thoughts and, ultimately, of our conscious and unconscious actions. It makes a difference whether you encourage or discourage a colleague with your remarks. It makes a difference whether you think well or badly of someone. It makes a difference whether you do sports or not, whether you are a good or a bad example to children, whether you shop sustainably or without thinking about the consequences. As an enfranchised being with the potential to create, we cast a vote for the world and for ourselves with everything we do. We shall harvest today what we sowed yesterday – and the same is true of tomorrow. This law of cause and effect contains an incredible opportunity for humanity to heal Nature and bring about world peace; to stop being a ‘spoilsport’ in the ecosystem and return to being a team player in the great family of the world, we have to sow new causes – then we can reap a harvest of peace. Having peace in our hearts will lead to peace in the world.

Ulrich Emil Duprée has studied both Western and Eastern philosophy and lived in a Hindu monastery for four years. He has taught Ho’oponopono, the ritual of forgiveness, since his mystical initiation by a Hawaiian Kahuna priest in 2009.

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