Healing reinvented by Vitale. Eppie Brasil's & my Ho'oponopono

clip_image002MANILA: Sometimes learning comes when you're not going after learning.

Yesterday, Saturday, 23 March 2013, my wife Amparo and I attended the 2013 Lenten Recollection sponsored by the Marriage Encounter Foundation of the Philippines (MEFP West Cluster) held 7 AM to 6 PM at the Cuneta Astrodome along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City. The theme was "Marriage & Family in the Year of Faith." Of course this is a subtle Catholic reaction to the passage of the RH Bill into Law, which in essence is anti-life, anti-marriage, and anti-family.

The 4 main speakers scheduled were Bro Chito Jongco, Head Servant of Beloved of the Lord Community; Sister Eppie Brasil, Founder, Dominican Sisters of the Regina Rosarii; Msgr Esteban Lo, Chaplain, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord at SM Megamall; and Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani of the Diocese of Novaliches. We arrived late and left early, so we caught only the tail end of Bro Chito's talk; since he didn't summarize his preaching, I didn't catch his drift. We listened to Sister Eppie in full; we didn't get to hear Msgr Lo, but we heard Bishop Bacani throughout.

The Bishop's talk was memorable in that part where he spoke of love in 2 senses (he didn't use that term; I'm the one calling them "senses"): eros and agape. "Love is eros," he said. "Akin ka." You are mine. You want to get, get, get. "Love is agape," he said next. "Ako'y iyo." I am yours. You want to give, give, give. It should be both. Nicely put, Bishop!

Sister Eppie's talk was more memorable as, among other things, she spoke of Ho'oponopono, a Hawaiian concept of healing. This was the first time I heard of it. She spoke of the 4 parts of healing (she didn't use that term either; she spoke of healing but I'm the one calling them "parts," which explains the image above), and they consist of these 4 declarations:

(1) I love you.
(2) Please forgive me.
(3) I am sorry.
(4) Thank you.

I was struck by those 4 parts of healing, as they resonated with my own spiritual growth in the last 22 years. And over the last 6 years, I realized that when I was able to get rid of my spiritual baggage, when I was able to surrender my weakness and admit God's strength, I could now breathe easier and my mind was much more creative.

Having first met Ho'oponopono with Sister Eppie, I went to the Internet to search for more information, and I'm glad I did.

Ho'oponopono originated from Hawaii, was rethought and taught by Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona who was so successful in using it as a healing & transformation method with small and large groups, even to United Nations staff, that in 1983 "she received a great honor by being designated as a living treasure of Hawaii" (Gleb Esman, idreamcatcher.com). Ho'oponopono is a cleaning process, as "you clean yourself from subconscious garbage - programs that run your life without your participation." He means cleansing. As reinvented by Joe Vitale along with Ihaleakala Hew Len, to cleanse yourself via the Ho'oponopono process, you repeat the following phrases as your mantra (Wikipedia):

I love you.
Please forgive me.
I am sorry.
Thank you.

In other words, these are mantras all for your sake. "These phrases repeated will ignite the self-transformation process." They're about giving love, asking for forgiveness, being sorry for hurting someone, and giving thanks. All in your favor.

"If you want to improve your life, you have to heal your life," Vitale says (mrfire.com). You keep saying "I'm sorry" and "I love you" and that's it. "Turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve yourself."

I understand. Now then, acknowledging its power, I see that in the 4 sides of healing (the 4 mantras of personal cleansing) in the way of Vitale's Ho'oponopono, I find 1 major objection:

(1) With those Ho'oponopono mantras, you say you are addressing God, but in fact, you are merely addressing whatever you consider "a higher power" (ho-oponopono.org), not necessarily the God that I'm familiar with, the Christian God. The God that my Roman Catholic faith describes is fine with me, thank you very much!

But in fact, I have 2 other objections:

(2) The 2nd and 3rd sides actually belong to each other, as you will naturally say, "I am sorry. Please forgive me."

(3) Given (2) above, and assuming as I do that there are 4 sides of healing, now then, there is a missing 3rd part of Vitale's Ho'oponopono.

What do you think is the missing part?

For you to get the correct answer, consider the fact that you are sorry and are asking for forgiveness, which means you realized finally that you have hurt someone and you are now asking to be forgiven by that someone. Now, what about the other way around? That's the answer to the question.

If you still don't get it, I'm telling you now; the 4 mantras should read like this:

(1) I love you.
(2) Please forgive me.
(3) I forgive you.
(4) I thank you.

Healing is not all about you. Just as you want to be forgiven, so should you forgive! The Christian God commands us so: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" (Matthew 12: 7 NRSV). The original 4 parts of healing in Vitale's version of Ho'oponopono is incomplete; you cannot completely heal even if now you truly love, even if now you truly have been forgiven, even if now you are able to say "Thank you" sincerely, if you have not forgiven others, you are not yet completely healed, not yet!

How goes the prayer of St Francis again, which talks also about forgiveness?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

"Where there is injury, pardon." This is not part of the original mantra of Ho'oponopono, hence it is much the less. Forgiving is the most difficult part of all if you want any healing. I know, been there, done that! Not for want of trying, but it took me at least 10 years to forgive my wife even as she would not forgive me, not yet. Double jeopardy, double the victory. I've seen it, and I continue to see it: Forgiveness is the magnificent double door: (1) To healing; oh, how sweet it is! (2) To creativity; oh, how doubly sweet it is!

So, after I have reinvented Ho'oponopono, definitely factoring in God, I will now rearrange the 4 parts of healing like this:

(1) I forgive you.
(2) Please forgive me.
(3) I love you.
(4) I thank you.

You notice that my version of Ho'oponopono has 12 words, because I like the number 12, such as 12 days of Christmas, 12 apostles of Jesus, a day measured in 12 hours, 12 months in a year, and 12 function keys in a computer keyboard.

And then again, if you didn't notice, the declaration "Please forgive me" can be restated as "I beg you to forgive me," so to be consistent, I will now revise the list into this, starting with forgiveness:

(1) I Forgive You.
(2) I Beg You.
(3) I Love You.
(4) I Thank You.

Still 12 but now all are "I" and "You" statements; all beginnings of words capitalized, as the action words are equally important. The "You" is as important as the "I." In other words, in my version, healing always starts with the "I" and ends with the "You." Unlike in Vitale's Ho'oponopono, the "I" is not the "You" in my 4 I's of Ho'oponopono.

I think I now have the right to claim I have completely reinvented Ho'oponopono and wish to call my version
The 4 I's of Ho'oponopono.

Having said that, I have a mind to use my 4 I's of Ho' as a formula for Creative Writing. Because you are able to ask for forgiveness, you are able to announce your love, you are able to give thanks, and you are able to truly forgive, your mind becomes truly creative since it's free of any spiritual or emotional or intellectual baggage; there are no ifs and buts that impede the continual flow of creative thoughts. I'm a living proof of that. At 72, with 6 books published abroad in the last 6 years, among other intellectual outputs, and being the first and up to now the one-and-only recipient of an award from the University of the Philippines as the "Outstanding Alumnus for Creative Writing" in 2011, in a field other than my own discipline, which is Education.

There's more to my 4 I's of Ho', but you'll have to attend one of my Creattitudes workshops to find out. In fact, I just finished designing a free Creative Writing Workshop for high school students based on the 4 I's. You also want free for your professional group? Email me at frankahilario@gmail.com for a free 3-hour work-in, your place, not mine.

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