Ho’oponopono-I’m Sorry, I Love You Process
I don’t seem able to speak Hawaiian very well, so I just call this the “I’m sorry. I love you.” process. I love this process and I find it extremely helpful. I will copy here the original email that got me started on it.
Two years ago, I heard about a therapist in Hawaii who cured a complete ward
of criminally insane patients–without ever seeing any of them. The
psychologist would study an inmate’s chart and then look within himself to
see how he created that person’s illness. As he improved himself, the
When I first heard this story, I thought it was an urban legend. How could
anyone heal anyone else by healing himself? How could even the best
self-improvement master cure the criminally insane? It didn’t make any sense
It wasn’t logical, so I dismissed the story.
However, I heard it again a year later. I heard that the therapist had used
a Hawaiian healing process called ho’oponopono. I had never heard of it, yet
I couldn’t let it leave my mind. If the story was at all true, I had to know
more. I had always understood “total responsibility” to mean that I am
responsible for what I think and do. Beyond that, it’s out of my hands. I
think that most people think of total responsibility that way. We’re
responsible for what we do, not what anyone else does–but that’s wrong.
The Hawaiian therapist who healed those mentally ill people would teach me
an advanced new perspective about total responsibility. His name is Dr.
Ihaleakala Hew Len. We probably spent an hour talking on our first phone
call. I asked him to tell me the complete story of his work as a therapist.
He explained that he worked at Hawaii State Hospital for four years.
That ward where they kept the criminally insane was dangerous. Psychologists
quit on a monthly basis. The staff called in sick a lot or simply quit.
People would walk through that ward with their backs against the wall,
afraid of being attacked by patients. It was not a pleasant place to live,
work, or visit.
Dr. Len told me that he never saw patients. He agreed to have an office and
to review their files. While he looked at those files, he would work on
himself. As he worked on himself, patients began to heal.
‘After a few months, patients that had to be shackled were being allowed to
walk freely,’ he told me. ‘Others who had to be heavily medicated were
getting off their medications. And those who had no chance of ever being
released were being freed.’ I was in awe. ‘Not only that,’ he went on, ‘but
the staff began to enjoy coming to work. Absenteeism and turnover
disappeared. We ended up with more staff than we needed because patients
were being released, and all the staff was showing up to work. Today, that
ward is closed.’
This is where I had to ask the million dollar question: ‘What were you doing
within yourself that caused those people to change?’
‘I was simply healing the part of me that created them,’ he said.
I didn’t understand. Dr. Len explained that total responsibility for your
life means that everything in your life- simply because it is in your
life–is your responsibility. In a literal sense the entire world is your
Whew. This is tough to swallow. Being responsible for what I say or do is
one thing. Being responsible for what everyone in my life says or does is
quite another. Yet, the truth is this: if you take complete responsibility
for your life, then everything you see, hear, taste, touch, or in any way
experience is your responsibility because it is in your life. This means
that terrorist activity, the president, the economy or anything you
experience and don’t like–is up for you to heal. They don’t exist, in a
manner of speaking, except as projections from inside you. The problem isn’t
with them, it’s with you, and to change them, you have to change you.
I know this is tough to grasp, let alone accept or actually live. Blame is
far easier than total responsibility, but as I spoke with Dr. Len, I began
to realize that healing for him and in ho ‘oponopono means loving yourself.
If you want to improve your life, you have to heal your life. If you want to
cure anyone, even a mentally ill criminal you do it by healing you.
I asked Dr. Len how he went about healing himself. What was he doing,
exactly, when he looked at those patients’ files?
“I just kept saying, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I love you’ over and over again,” he
Turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve yourself, and
as you improve yourself, you improve your world.
Let me give you a quick example of how this works: one day, someone sent me
an email that upset me. In the past I would have handled it by working on my
emotional hot buttons or by trying to reason with the person who sent the
This time, I decided to try Dr. Len’s method. I kept silently saying, ‘I’m
sorry’ and ‘I love you,’ I didn’t say it to anyone in particular. I was
simply evoking the spirit of love to heal within me what was creating the
Within an hour I got an e-mail from the same person. He apologized for his
previous message. Keep in mind that I didn’t take any outward action to get
that apology. I didn’t even write him back. Yet, by saying ‘I love you,’ I
somehow healed within me what was creating him.
“I later attended a ho’oponopono workshop run by Dr. Len. He’s now
70 years old, considered a grandfatherly shaman, and is somewhat reclusive.
He praised my book, The Attractor Factor. He told me that as I improve
myself, my book’s vibration will raise, and everyone will feel it when they
read it. In short, as I improve, my readers will improve.
“What about the books that are already sold and out there?” I asked.
“They aren’t out there,” he explained, once again blowing my mind with his
mystic wisdom. “They are still in you.”
In short, there is no out there. It would take a whole book to explain this
advanced technique with the depth it deserves.
“Suffice It to say that whenever you want to improve anything in your life,
there’s only one place to look: inside you. When you look, do it with love.”
Now, this is an example of how this healing process has worked in my own life. This is very similar to the forgiveness processes I use from my study of ACIM (ACourse in Miracles).
I was at a business conference last week. A friend called to talk about how the latest terrorist activity in England would affect our travel plans. I didn’t know anything about it because I don’t watch television or listen to news reports. I decided to check it out. As I listened to the newscaster go over and over the same report, I began to feel the fear grow in me. I remembered why I quit watching these things, and I turned it off. The problem with fear is that it is like a virus; once you become infected with it, it spreads all through your thoughts.
I started thinking about my son’s back problem. He was going to the doctor soon, and I was worried about what would be said. I remembered that my daughter had called with an update on her house which was still being repaired from the hurricane damage. The costs were higher than expected and I worried that she would not be able to afford to do all the work needed. The fear thoughts were like a program running in the back of my mind as I went about my business at the busy conference.
Soon I was in a funk, without really knowing why. I did know that I had lost my peace and I wanted it back. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me see what needed healing. Very quickly I realized where the problem started. I noticed thoughts like, “Some of these religious fanatics are really insane. No one is safe from them. It is just a matter of time before they succeed in another act of terror here in the US.” Then I asked the Holy Spirit to help me see what it was within myself that created terrorists. This is where the problem occurred, and this is where it must be corrected.
Together we looked at the terrorist file. I saw rage and fear, and intolerance. Then we looked at my file and I saw the same thing. I have moments of intense rage. Usually, I suppress it, but when I act on it I am a terrorist, too. I may not blow up buildings when I am enraged, but I cause pain and destroy relationships when I am acting out my anger. It is not a lesser act of terrorism because no one dies. It is only an ego device to camouflage rage as anger, annoyance, or frustration, but in truth no matter what the form looks like, if it is not God it is ego. Those are the only two choices.
I expressed my remorse at having projected my rage and intolerance in the form of terrorists. I asked the Holy Spirit to correct my thinking and to heal my mind. I expressed my love toward all. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me know that each terrorist is completely innocent no matter what his actions. I am completely innocent no matter what my actions, or even my thoughts. I was surprised at how quickly I regained my peace. I felt light and I smiled a lot. Ahhh!