“If we can accept that we are the sum total of all past thoughts, emotions, words, deeds, and actions, and that our present lives and choices are colored or shaded by this memory bank of the past, then we begin to see how a process of correcting or setting aright can change our lives, our families, and our society.” – Morrnah Simeona, from Dewdrops of Wisdom

If you’ve researched hoʻoponopono at any depth, you may have come across some controversy. I’m going to briefly address that here. I hope this simple explanation will suffice for the purpose of this article – deeper research can easily be done on your own. If you wish to skip this explanation then begin reading just below the four “approximate” symbols: ~~~~.

In pre-contact Hawaiʻi, hoʻoponopono was a process that kahuna (an expert or master of an art or craft) may have used for manifesting things in the phenomenal world: instant healing, weather change, increased food production, etc. In essence, the process involved holding a very clear idea of a desired outcome in mind, super-charging it with life force energy, then sending it off to be manifested by unseen forces. In a very simplistic way, it could be thought of as being similar to the process of  Law of Attraction.

But because hoʻoponopono was so foreign to the strict religious colonizers who later forbad many aspects of the Hawaiian culture, hoʻoponopono in its purest form went underground to avoid its disappearance all together.

Fast forward to the mid-20th century and Aunty Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona, one of the last kāhuna – if not the very last – trained in the traditional way. Aunty Morrnah had no qualms about adapting traditional Hawaiian concepts to contemporary applications and began to modify the traditional Hawaiian forgiveness and reconciliation aspect of hoʻoponopono to meet the realities of the modern day. Her version of hoʻoponopono was influenced by her philosophical studies of India, China, and Edgar Cayce as well as her Christian education.

The controversy lies in which of the techniques, if either, are recognized as legitimate Hawaiian practices. I’ve learned and practiced both and speak from my experience when I say they are each very powerful techniques that bring results. Whether they are legitimate Hawaiian practices or not, I leave to the experts to determine.

It is the latter form of hoʻoponopono that I’m writing about today.


The hoʻoponopono technique that Aunty Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona taught consists of four simple yet extremely powerful phrases:

Iʻm sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.

At the hoʻopukakū (literal or outer) level, this practice can be the beginning of reconciliation between two people or people within a group. Because most people are not living ALOHA as a spiritual practice today, results from this level of hoʻoponopono come more easily with the aid of a facilitator or mediator. The hoʻoponopono phrases are used as a method to give up old ways that people may be thinking about each other and bring the energy between them back to ground zero from where they can build a fresh, positive connection.

At the kaona (symbolic or inner) level of hoʻoponopono, one is beginning to remember they can repeat the phrases in their mind on their own when they are with another person or out in the phenomenal world in order bring the energy to ground zero; thereby not interacting based on memories, prejudices, or conditioned interpretations. At the same time, the person is beginning to create a relationship with ALOHA – one’s own authentic nature – and maybe even look out at others and the phenomenal world from that perspective.

The noahuna (esoteric or secret) level of hoʻoponopono brings one into complete connection with ALOHA – the life force energy of the universe – by reversing ego’s propensity to separate itself from others and the phenomenal world. In Buddhism, this is called egolessness or emptiness.

Egolessness through hoʻoponopono is attained by replacing thinking all together with an unending mantra of the hoʻoponopono phrases. We’re returning to ground zero with everything we perceive: apologizing, seeking forgiveness, thanking, and loving everything we connect with through our six sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind).

The reason for this is that, over time, we have collected subconscious memories of opinions about everything and every kind of person we come across. Those memories are accessed by the analytical/conceptual mind (left brain hemisphere/ego) and form the basis of our interaction with others and the phenomenal world. By saying and feeling the power of the hoʻoponopono phrases, we replace our subconscious opinions/prejudices with the energetic value of ALOHA – the true nature of reality – so we can start from a fresh place with everyone and everything.

Also, very importantly and as science has proven, all existence – at its smallest qualifier – is pure energy; energy that is vibrating at different rates of speed. Everything has a quality of vibration; including thoughts, spoken words, and actions. Our thoughts, words, and actions vibrate out into the endless ocean of energy of which we are a part like waves and boomerang back into our lives things that are similar in quality to those thoughts, words, and actions. At some point, this becomes karma. But more immediately, it is creation. We are creating the circumstances in our lives with every thought, word, and action. And the power of that creative ability is multiplied equal to the number of people thinking, saying, and doing the same things.

When we imagine what world war three would be like at the same time millions of other people are doing the same thing, we, collectively, are creating what we fear in a very powerful way.

If hoʻoponpono is practiced at the same level of commitment as that of Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, it becomes the Hawaiian method of clearing lifetimes of karma. If we practice hoʻoponopono at times when our thoughts, words, and actions have not yet fully manifested, we cut both the karma from those thoughts, words, or actions and the creation process of bringing potentially negative circumstances into our lives.

In the noahuna level of hoʻoponopono, we’re giving up our ground – comfort in what we’re familiar with – and trading it in for groundlessness.

“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.” – Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Groundlessness is the truth of life that we readily ignore. Ego NEEDS solidity and confirmation to feel good about itself yet the only thing in life that is solid, reliable, or permanent is ALOHA, pure isness. Groundlessness – ALOHA – then becomes the ground on which we can rely.

In all levels of hoʻoponopono, we are connecting with ALOHA – our inherent nature – and bringing all people and things into that connection with us. Here are the simple steps:

  • As you go throughout your day, make a connection from your heart with every person or part of the phenomenal world you’re around
  • Say the hoʻoponopono phrases to yourself while feeling that heart connection
  • Feel ALOHA reveal itself within and without you (all)
  • Continue doing this as you go through your day

If there was ever a time in our lives to use a technique to bring peace and care for all people and the environment, it seems to me this is most certainly that time. And hoʻoponopono the technique.

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