Healing Without Forgiving. Joe Vitale's Selfish, Limited, Vulnerable Ho'oponopono
MANILA: I writer am interested in healing because I know that healing leads to much creativity. Age doesn't matter because gray matter doesn't age in creativity. I have a mind of a 72-year old to prove that! Among other incontrovertible pieces of evidence, in October 2011, when I was 71, I received from the University of the Philippines Los Baños Alumni Association the first-ever award "Outstanding Alumnus for Creative Writing." There was no such awardee in 2012. Great!
The old Polynesian (OP) Ho'oponopono was oriented to family & tribal or village healing. "Ho’oponopono has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of Hawaii and other Polynesian islands to heal illnesses in individuals and even wounds within the family and the tribe" (ANN, processcoaching.com). Excellent!
Then Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona reinvented Ho'oponopono; Hew Len and Joe Vitale in turn reinvented that and made it personal; so I'm going to call it the Simeona-Len-Vitale (SLV) Ho'oponopono. It isn't that great.
In my previous essay, I myself reinvented the SLV Ho'oponopono (see my "Healing reinvented by Vitale. Eppie Brasil's & my Ho'oponopono," 24 March 2013, Frank A Hilario, blogspot.com). This essay explains how the OP Ho'oponopono has evolved from being family-based to person-based to village-based healing. Yes.
Vitale says, "If you want to improve your life, you have to heal your life" (mrfire.com). You keep saying "I'm sorry" and "I love you" and that's it, he says. "Turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve yourself." Yes?
So, Joe Vitale is selling the idea that this SLV version of the old Polynesian Ho'oponopono is the secret to personal healing, which is the secret to personal health and wealth. About personal wealth, maybe, but I'm not interested. About personal health, I don't doubt it; if you get rid of some of your emotional, psychological, spiritual baggages, you become healthier. I'm speaking from experience of 22 years with the Bukás Loób sa Díyos (Hearts Open to God) Catholic Charismatic Community in the Philippines.
But total health from the SLV Ho'oponopono? I doubt it very much. SLV healing is Selfish, Limited, Vulnerable. SLV Ho'oponopono is self-absorbed, self-centered, and does not really care what happens to the world outside oneself. There is no village included within SLV Ho'oponopono; there is only a person, a very healthy & very successful person - not caring about a very healthy & very prosperous village. I take care of myself; you take care of yourself.
Ho'oponopono as espoused by the SLV version is getting rid of spiritual baggages, not requiring the participation of anybody else. That is against the spirit of the ancient Hawaiian healing practice. If not Simeona herself, then Len and Vitale have hijacked the concept for themselves. They now prescribe it for personal success, health and wealth. Very personal. It is clear that you are not compassionately connected to society if you go after its wealth for your own sake only.
How can it not be selfish when those 4 phrases in SLV Ho'oponopono are centered on you and you alone, to make you feel whole and good? You're not talking to someone; you're just saying to the air, to your Divinity, "I love you" and "Please forgive me" and "I am sorry" and "Thank you."
If instead you told someone and not only to the air around you, "I love you" and "Please forgive me" and "I am sorry" and "Thank you," you would have started a village on its way to healing. That's Forgiveness Healing. In SLV Healing, you're interested only in yourself. Joe Vitale says, "Suffice it to say that whenever you want to improve anything in your life, there's only one place to look: inside you."
Catherine Strang says Love is expressed in "I love you," Humility in "I'm sorry," Responsibility in "Please forgive me," Gratitude in "Thank you" (thewholeofyou.com). Good, Catherine, but not good enough. There is no true forgiveness there or, which is the same thing, "Please forgive me" is only half of forgiveness - you have to give the other half, you have to forgive: "I forgive you."
Thus, in my version of the Ho'oponopono, forgiveness is the crucial element of healing, half-half in the phrases "I forgive you" and "I beg you" to forgive me. When I tell others "I forgive you. I beg you. I love you. I thank you" over and over again, those magic words are designed to heal a lot of people directly involved in my life so far; it's a wheel and so it goes round and round and round until it covers the entire village. I shall now call my village-oriented version the Double Forgiveness (2F) Ho'oponopono (see image).
Listen to me You, You, You, You, You and You! I'll say it once, I'll say it a thousand times. I Forgive You. I Beg You. I Love You. I Thank You. I Forgive You. I Beg You. I Love You. I Thank You. I Forgive You ...
If you talk to the Divinity in you as SLV Ho'oponopono requires, it would be wrong to say "I forgive you." In 2F Ho'oponopono, it would be right to say it to someone alive, someone who has hurt you. If you say "I forgive you" without demanding that the other person ask for forgiveness before you give it, you are healed! And the other person is healed! This is what the SLV Ho'oponopono misses, which is what my village-building 2F Ho'oponopono aims at. Which is what the old Polynesian Ho'oponopono aimed at.
R Makana Risser Chai says, "Traditionally, Hawaiians know that conflicts, guilt and holding grudges caused disease. They practiced Ho’oponopono, a system for recognizing conflicts, forgiving the people involved, providing for restitution, and making things right" (hawaiianinsights.com). Thus, the original idea of the Ho'oponopono was as a family & village keeper. For commercial purposes, it was reinvented because the original was not designed for self-healing like SLV Ho'oponopono, so it couldn't be a consumer product. Thus, it has been redesigned to be a moneymaker as it can be sold as well to individuals as to groups; but then, the SLV version forgot the other-people-healing part. My 2F version restores the family and village, even as it is a self-healing process.
"I forgive you … and you, and you, and you!"
As I said as much in my earlier essay ("Healing reinvented by Vitale," blogspot.com), SLV Ho'oponopono as practiced ignores the most difficult part of the healing process, which is to forgive, so that others share in your healing. I started healing when I started to forgive myself and others. SLV healing is selfish - you forgive only your own self. Matthew B James says, "I wanted it for myself" (29 March 2011, psychologytoday.com). This brand of Ho'oponopono is very selfish.
One other thing. I have visited at least 50 webpages and I note that almost all believers of Ho'oponopono talks of "the Divinity" that is within each of us, that Divinity being either God, Source, Spirit, the Universe, your Higher Self, or your inner mind. Now, who put that Divinity in there? What kind of Divinity; is it as I define it, as I describe it, as I sense it? In that case, I am the master of that Divinity. OMG!
The SLV Ho'oponopono does not give you the basis for that Divinity, except that it is within you. Now then, that whatever-you-consider-it-to-be-Divinity Divinity is already different between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant and a Jew. I am a Roman Catholic; I opt for a Ho'oponopono that defines within what I know to be a Catholic Divinity and not the other way around! If your concept of Divinity does not require that I forgive, then you can have your Divinity and I'll go ahead and hug mine.
Ho'oponopono is "a process of letting go of toxic energies within you to allow the impact of Divine thoughts, words, deeds and actions" (hooponoponoitalia.it). Now, what is divine to you? I prefer as my source of Divine thoughts the Christian God, as the Roman Catholic sees Them, the Trinity, as revealed in the Holy Traditions and Holy Bible and as interpreted for modern times by the Magisterium or the Teaching Authority of the Church.
Karolina says, "It helps you clean the unconscious where all your blocks are" (releaseyouremotions.com). Yes, SLV Ho'oponopono makes you feel better and more creative. But since it's more complete, my 2F Ho'oponopono is better than better!
Maui Jungalow says, "Do what is best for you, and for what feels right in your heart" (mauijungalow.com). Yes, but be careful with "what feels right in your heart" because it becomes anarchy if your ultimate basis is your feeling, as it is in SLV Ho'oponopono.
Tony Pann says, describing SLV Ho'oponopono (22 February 2013, examiner.com):
Ho'oponopono is a sacred way of living. Today, its usage extends to unlimited applications and, although the word itself might be Hawaiian in origin, its meaning is universal. The foundations of the teachings are: Love, Compassion, Forgiveness and Gratitude. Ho'oponopono, as it is translated, beautifully expresses these teachings in four simple statements: "I love you." "I am sorry." "Please forgive me." "Thank you."
Unlike you, Tony Pann and Catherine Strang, I do not separate Love from Compassion, Forgiveness, Humility, Responsibility, and Gratitude. Read if you will 1 Corinthians 13 (New Testament). Yes, your Ho'oponopono is inexplicably redundant. No, "I am sorry" is not Forgiveness; rather, it is the same as "Please forgive me" - it is Asking for Forgiveness by Someone, not You Giving Forgiveness to that Someone. Giving Forgiveness is the neglected better half of Asking for Forgiveness. My Double Forgiveness - "I forgive you" and "I beg you" - in fact calls for Complete Forgiveness. All, or nothing at all.
Now then, if you insist on practicing Ho'oponopono according to Joe Vitale? You're selfish, limited, vulnerable, hardheaded and rich, but I forgive you!